Other Research Projects

Trading with Pariahs: International Trade and Sanctions

with Keith A. Preble, University at Albany, SUNY

In the first part of this project, we explore the sanctions regime towards North Korea. For decades, the international community has targeted North Korea with economic sanctions, seeking not only to keep the nuclear bomb out of North Korean hands but also to potentially bring about regime change and weaken its military. However, many in the academic and policy communities have labeled the North Korean sanctions regime a failure as none of these goals have been achieved. Why has North Korea been able to evade the pressure of international sanctions more effectively than other targets, such as Iran and Myanmar? Recent scholarship argues that the answer is largely that North Korean elites are insulated from domestic pressures brought on by economic sanctions. We argue that the failure of North Korean sanctions is the result of North Korea’s network of trading partners that prevents the West from weaponizing its interdependence. In this study, we explore trade and sanctions-busting trends using UN Comtrade sectoral data from 1990 to the present to show how this network of trade has allowed North Korea to evade the pain of economic sanctions. We argue that economic sanctions limit the ability of the US and its allies from incorporating North Korea into their trade networks and in doing so, undermine the coercive power of economic sanctions. In future work, we will apply this framework to other “pariah states” such as Cuba and Myanmar.

Sitting on a Nickel Mine: A Spatial Analysis of Anti-Mining Ethnic Mobilization in the Philippines

with Nakissa P. Jahanbani, Combating Terrorism Center, United States Military Academy at West Point

Identity and culture can serve as powerful impetuses for mobilization, yet they may not be enough to induce mobilization. Given the increasing importance of identity and ethnicity globally, we ask the question: why do some ethnic groups mobilize and others do not? We employ a geographically-weighted regression (GWR) to the study of ethnic group mobilization against mining operations from 2000 to 2017 in the Philippines to attempt to answer this question. Informed by the contentious political literature on grievance, we believe that the emergence of ethnic protests can be linked to structural factors (economic inequality and unequal political opportunities). We find that ethnic fractionalization has a positive significant effect on anti-mining protests in the Philippines overall, but the relationship between grievance and protest varies over spatial units. Through this study, we not only contribute to our knowledge of grievance and mobilization, but also demonstrate how spatial analytical methods can facilitate a better understanding of important phenomena in social science. We endeavor to apply this technique to understanding variation in mining protests in other countries with large foreign mining operations such as Guatemala in future research.