My research interests in emergency response, governance, and civil society development are united by a desire to understand state-society relation in both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. My main regional focus is on China; in addition to understanding this important case, I also seek to leverage crossnational comparisons to advance broader theories for comparative politics. 

Dissertation Project

Public Ruins: civic engagement in disaster-stricken cities

Dissertation committee members: Elizabeth Perry, Susan Pharr, Grzegorz Ekiert, Yuhua Wang

Inspired by puzzles presented by a major earthquake in authoritarian China in 2008, my dissertation investigates the effects of space on sociopolitical behavior and analyzes space as a method of social control by the state. More specifically, my dissertation seeks to understand what distributions of people across physical spaces are most conducive to collective action and horizontal linkages in society, and conversely, what spatial arrangements benefit state power. This will also shed light on how physical spaces can be used to reinforce state control and constrain the public sphere, a relatively understudied aspect of authoritarianism.