Political Geography of China (spring 2022)

This course, which I first taught in the spring semester 2019, puts Chinese politics on the map. The course asks how the government deals with the enormous challenges of ruling over a vast terrain with a diverse population, encompassing super-rich urban metropolises as well as poor rural peripheries. We begin with statecraft traditions from the late imperial era; and end with China's place on the future global maps of the 21st century. Topics include: macro-regions; priority zones of governance; Special Economic Zones; the Chinese equivalent of “blue states and red states;” rising inequality; ethnic minorities and borderlands; economic development models; urbanization and city planning; collective action in digital space; domestic and international migration; environmental politics; and the geo-politics of the “One Belt One Road” initiative. We will set aside class time for a hands-on introduction to producing and interpreting maps of China.

Economic Governance in East Asia (spring 2022)

East Asia has given rise to models of development with distinct visions for the relationship between the state and the market. Hallmarks of the designs are powerful ministries, gigantic conglomerates, state-supervised labor unions, and spectacular corruption. The first part of the tutorial revisits four decades of “miraculous” growth in Japan and the Asian Tiger economies (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore), in order to illuminate underlying development strategies from a political science perspective, including through theories of late industrialization and varieties of capitalism. The second part of this course focuses on China, whose strategists have drawn on its neighbors’ experience. It highlights the vast differences between economic regions in China (the Pearl River versus the Yangtze Delta, versus lagging Western regions), as well as the significant transformation of the country’s approach over the last three decades. Students will develop a deeper comprehension of phenomena such as national champions, tycoons in the digital economy, Communist party control, international expansion, and slogans such as “Made in China 2025.” Throughout the course, we will occasionally go back in time to historical foundations of economic governance. This junior tutorial provides individualized support in the research process toward a final paper.

China and the African Continent (fall 2021)

As Africa faces daunting challenges, the “Beijing model” invites intriguing alternative visions to the poorly performing designs by traditional foreign actors in the region. Moving from Chinese farm households in Mozambique to state-owned copper mines in Zambia, military bases in East Africa and the United Nations headquarters, this seminar critically assesses the potential for China’s presence to transform Sub-Saharan Africa. After identifying the intellectual stakes (week 1), and discussing anecdotal glimpses from the grassroot-levels (week 2), the class deals with traditional development assistance, along with Maoist attempts to revolutionize the “world countryside” – resulting in legacies such as a China-trained guerilla fighter serving as the President of Zimbabwe. We then discuss the current footprint of Beijing, including its influence on elite politics, Chinese public and private business interests, and the diversity of the one million Chinese migrants to Africa. Four sessions specialize on (1) resource extraction versus opportunities for human capital development (2) debt-traps of Western and Eastern origins (3) emerging tensions over human rights policies (4) and the military dimension, including China’s role in Peace-Keeping Operations. Finally, the course addressees how the Chinese presence may transform established multilateral institutions, and the challenges associated with African migration to China. Social science research will be read alongside journalistic accounts and primary documents, such as leaked diplomatic cables and strategy papers. Will Africa become “Beijing’s Second Continent,” of the neo-colonial or tributary kind? What promises does the China model hold for Africans? How do the partners on both continents react to experiences of disillusionment and retreat? The assignments are designed to train students for public policy work and require close group collaboration.

Historical Legacies in East Asian Politics (fall 2021)

How does the historical past shape politics in the present? East Asia and its recent political developments provide a most striking universe of cases, where legacies of the past influence both domestic politics and international relations. Located at the intersection of history and political science, this course is grounded in theories of institutional development, introducing concepts such as path dependence, critical junctures, and unintended consequences. Beginning with China, the course discusses explanations of development successes grounded in grand narratives going far back in time; the impact of cultural norms, imperial techniques of statecraft, revolutionary practices; the uses and abuses of history in the service of the party state; and the long-term impact of Christian missionaries, Japanese colonizers, and a decade of warfare. Through the case of Japanese domestic politics, we explore how tradition is transmitted through habits and memories of individuals; through institutions such as the perennial ruling party; and through a broadly defined civil society. As examples of critical junctures, we will discuss North Korea’s early postwar history and South Korea’s democratization process, discovering their enduring influences on both political systems. Turning to international relations, this course asks whether foreign and security policy is the result of a deeply rooted strategic culture, how diplomats maneuver the divisions over historical guilt of World War II, and what narratives such as the “century of humiliation” reveal about actors’ strategic thinking. Throughout the course, we will pay attention to regional linkages.

Political Parties of East Asia

East Asia has been home to an astonishing assortment of political parties, covering the spectrum from democratic to authoritarian institutions, including some of the world’s most sophisticated and resilient political organizations. We begin with China’s Communist Party, revisiting its foundation in 1921, its rise during the Sino-Japanese War 1937-45, and its transformation from a revolutionary party to a party in power; then turn to the present day to cover the deep reach of the party into society, the activities and functions of ordinary members, as well as the dynamics of the leading echelons. The second part of the course focuses on Japan, including the origins of political parties in the late 19th century, the post-War emergence of the perennial ruling party, the age of grand money politics under Tanaka Kakuei, the electoral reform of 1993, and the origins of the party’s current strength. The third part consists of case studies, covering contemporary parties in North and South Korea, parties in Taiwan before and after the democratic transition, as well as parties in Malaysia and Vietnam, with their multiple connections to East Asia. The course also puts East Asian parties into a comparative perspective to other world regions.

China's Cultural Revolution

EASTD 197 is a lecture course introducing a cataclysmic movement that brought the People’s Republic of China to the brink of anarchy: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The first part looks at historical precursors, including rebellion in the imperial era, political movements in the Republican Era, Communist campaigns and purges, as well as the Great Leap Forward famine that cost tens of millions of lives. Paying equal attention to elite politics at Mao Zedong’s “court” and the lived experiences of ordinary citizens, the second part focuses on the evolution of the turmoil, once Mao had called for “bombarding the headquarters” of his own party state, discussing the “Gang of Four,” the “attempted coup” by Lin Biao, the Red Guards and the worker rebels in Shanghai, local power seizures and factional warfare, military crackdowns, and the return to order. The third part begins with the reception of the movement abroad, and focuses on its afterlives, including the quasi- pluralist lessons drawn in the immediate aftermath, the role of Cultural Revolution legacies in decisions such as the violent crackdown on the Tiananmen protesters in 1989, and memory politics under Xi Jinping. No language requirement.

Political Economy of 21st Century China

This junior tutorial for students in the Social Sciences China track examines central challenges facing the Chinese leadership since 2000, in (1) domestic politics, (2) economics, and (3) foreign policy. Concepts and methods from the social sciences are introduced to analyze topics including the SARS health crisis, the strained leadership transition to Xi Jinping, internet censorship, the great variety of protests, policy experimentation, factions in elite politics, ethnic minorities, state-led development with the emergence of companies designated as national champions, anti-corruption efforts, rising inequality, artificial intelligence (AI) in the country’s digital strategy, international power transitions, China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), the ongoing trade dispute, and the Belt and Road initiative.

Harvard Government Department

As a teaching fellow for Professor Nara Dillon's introductory course to Chinese politics (Gov 1280), I presented and discussed with the students of my two sections key issues of Chinese politics. This included a historical introduction going back to the revolution of 1911. In the course of the semester, I also gave a lecture on the Cultural Revolution and its political after-effects.

Harvard-Yenching Institute: Research Workshop Leader

Every year advanced PhD candidates from Asian universities, working in a variety of academic fields, come to Harvard as visiting fellows of the Harvard-Yenching Institute. For three semesters between 2012 and 2014, I moderated a weekly workshop to discuss the fellows’ research and foster conversation between these young scholars from very different academic traditions. 

Harvard Economics Department

Ec 960, the sophomore tutorial at the Economics Department (overall course website here), applies economic theory to real-world problems and trains students to write economics paper. Under the umbrella of the tutorial, I taught a course on the Political Economy of China, based on my own syllabus (my syllabus here) and exploring China’s unique model of economic development, as well as the economic effects of ongoing, rapid institutional transformations. I taught this course twice, in spring 2011 and in spring 2012.

Harvard Program in General Education

As Harvard is developing a new general education curriculum, I joined a small group of graduate students to design the course Political Corruption. Under the direction of Professor James Alt and Professor Daniel Ziblatt, we met weekly throughout one semester to select readings, discuss key concepts and draft lectures. The course was taught in fall 2013. Syllabus: Societies of the World 50.

Harvard Kennedy School: Case Method Teaching

In spring 2009, I served as a course assistant for "Central Challenges of American Foreign Policy," co-taught by Professor Graham Allison and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan. Having been refined in many iterations over the years, this course puts to good use the case teaching method, similar to the kind developed at the Harvard Business School. Being involved in case design, as well as class logistics, we teaching assistants became very familiar with the essential fine points of the case teaching method.