Watson Institute at Brown University
International Relations

Honors Thesis Abstracts 2014

A Critical Approach to Energy Security:The Field of National Practice in Poland and Germany
Hannah H. Braun
Under what conditions does energy become securitized and profoundly change a nation's policies and practices around energy? Energy security is typically defined in terms of guaranteeing the steady supply of natural resources at affordable prices, protecting infrastructure from damage, and developing sustainable technology. Traditional explanations focus on geopolitical, economic, and environmental stewardship paradigms that fail to account for national variation in defining energy security and, consequently, in developing energy policies. I argue that energy-related events are important explanatory variables and develop a Critical Framework for Energy Security that synthesizes existing scholarship on energy security with the theory of fields, theory on eventfulness, and theories on culture and security. Comparing Poland and Germany over the course of four transformative events—the 2006/2009 Russia-Ukraine gas disputes, the 2011 shale revolution, the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and the construction of the Nord Stream pipeline by 2011—I illustrate how the securitization process is set in motion by eventfulness and is given meaning within the field of national practice. I find that history and culture influence responses to energy-related events. This conclusion has implications for both energy security theory and for the promotion of more productive dialogue on policymaking within energy affairs. 
Advisors: Michael Kennedy, M. Dawn King
Keywords: Energy Security, Eventfulness, Field of National Practice, Culture, Securitization, Poland, Germany
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Colonialism, Self-Rule, and the Asian Tigers: Tracing the Drivers Behind 50 Years of Economic Success
Han Sheng Chia
"From the third world to the first in one generation," is a line often touted by the governments of the Asian Tigers. With the rapid economic growth of Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, once derelict states are now some of the wealthiest in the world. Yet how much credit can post-colonial governments claim? What is the relative impact of colonialism and self-rule on achieving high growth? This thesis assesses whether there are common patterns to the growth experienced by the Tigers across both colonial and post-colonial eras. Answering these questions helps countries seeking to emulate the Tigers understand what exactly is replicable in the post-colonial era. While scholarship on how colonial legacies can impact outcomes under self-rule exists, nationalistic narratives have often downplayed the role of colonialism. Furthermore, little attention has been paid to how these legacies are transmitted across the colonial and post-colonial periods. My thesis assesses the relative contributions of colonial and post-colonial rule and identifies that there are multiple pathways to achieving the economic success of the Asian Tigers.
Advisors: Ashutosh Varshney, David Wyss
Keywords: Asian Tigers, Colonialism, Self-Rule, Developmental State, Economic Growth
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Challenging the Relationship between Institutions and Economic Integration: The Path to Cross-Strait Commerce
Justin Crist Lee
The present study seeks to provide alternative factors for economic integration in situations where formal institutional approaches are precluded by political differences. Economic integration is part of the global trend to liberalize markets and bolster international exchange. The dominant theory on economic integration focuses on the primacy of institutions as a determinant of development. However, this research answers the question of what are the alternative determinants of economic integration by examining the high levels of cross-Strait trade and investment that have existed in the absence of institutional linkages. Despite over sixty years of political conflict stemming from an unsettled civil war, Taiwan and Mainland China have developed into critical economic partners. The central thesis of this study is that three alternative factors—firm strategy, business networks, and the political economy landscape—help to explain the developmental process of cross-Strait exchange. Quantitative economic analysis, firsthand interviews conducted with Taiwanese entrepreneurs, and primary document analysis of commercial legislation inform the findings of this research. These conclusions are relevant to the legislative ratification process of future cross-Strait economic integration agreements and can be further applied to additional cases of economic development in other regions of conflict around the world. 
Advisors: Edward Steinfeld, Joaquin Blaum
Keywords: Taiwan and Mainland China, Economic Integration, Firm Strategy, Business Networks, Political Economy
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The People Business: Revisiting the Function of Networks in the Practice of Human Smuggling
Galen Hunt
What factors affect the ways human smuggling groups are organized along the U.S.-Mexico border? Are they driven by social networks at the place of origin or by dynamics at the border? Does the history of migration from an area determine whether large, violent smuggling groups form? Conventional wisdom is split between those who contend that economic factors and pressures along the border cause structural changes in the organization of human smuggling and those who contend that a migrant's place of origin determines the type of smuggling operations they can access. Using a simple comparison of means with large-n survey data, I test each of these hypotheses by examining how human smuggling operations vary based on a migrant's place of crossing and place of origin. Ultimately, I argue that dynamics along the border have a much greater effect on the organization of smuggling groups. Thus, regions with established migration routes will not inevitably exhibit smaller, less violent organizations. Likewise, migration from newer regions will not be inevitably violent. Rather, the organization of these human smuggling groups is a function of decisions that policy makers implement to influence and shape the dynamics along the U.S.-Mexico border. 
Advisors: David Lindstrom, Peter Andreas
Keywords: Human Smuggling, Irregular Immigration, Organized Crime, Networks, U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement Policy 
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Manual Intervention: A Path-dependency Analysis of the Influence of Values in Three Private Voluntary Initiatives
Youbin Kang
What explains successful attempts to improve labor conditions in the garment industry? Garment manufacturing is a global industry that utilizes reduced labor costs to construct the manufacturing base of lower value-added goods in developing nations. Since 2006, industry accidents have claimed more than 1500 lives, motivating a need for a new lens to study working conditions in the garment industry. Scholars tend to claim that strong influence of domestic political institutions, external pressures, and global value chains improve working conditions in the industry. I, in contrast, argue that values and norms of private firms matter and have significant influence in improving working conditions in the global supply chain. Using a path dependent framework for comparing the institutionalization of private voluntary initiatives in Eileen Fisher, Adidas, and Knights Apparel, I find that a period of crisis was critical to reorganizing corporate norms. Moreover, I find strong evidence that values embedded in the organization's size, hierarchical systems, and corporate culture determine successful voluntary initiatives. Scholars and companies must look beyond audit reports as a measure of success and consider the analysis of values to assess the impact of global governance. 
Advisors: Richard Locke, Keith Brown
Keywords: Private Voluntary Initiatives, Garment Industry, Corporate Values, Path Dependence
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Negotiating Fortress Europe: A Discursive Approach to Italian Migration Policy and European Solidarity
Hannah Koenig
The European Union promotes solidarity as a fundamental principle where member states share burdens. Despite the inclusion of solidarity in European legislation, which member states must legally uphold, disputes persist over sharing responsibility for managing international migration flows. How do policies and principles articulated at the European level influence member states and their domestic policies? Leading scholarship on Europeanization understands this process as a top-down transmission of European norms and practices to the domestic policy and discourse of member states. And yet, evidence drawn from a study of solidarity in Italian migration policy indicates that this process is not so straightforward. I build a theoretical framework that reconceptualizes Europeanization as a negotiation occurring across time and space and at different levels of society. Through discourse analysis, I find that while discourse of the Italian political elite and civil society groups reflects the European principle of solidarity, alternate interpretations of solidarity compete for influence in the policy sphere. A better understanding of the process of domestic interpretation and implementation of European norms like solidarity has wider implications for the lives of migrants, for host countries, and for the relationship between member states and regional blocs worldwide. 
Advisors: Nina Tannenwald, David Kertzer
Keywords: Solidarity, Migration Policy, Discourse, Italy, Europeanization
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Mediating Response: The Conceptualization of Victimhood, Media, and Humanitarian Responses to Disasters in Haiti and Japan
Takeru Nagayoshi
Why do humanitarian responses to natural disasters differ? As the frequency of disasters is projected to rise, we are increasingly faced with an obligation to reflect on the factors that pertain to humanitarian disaster response. To theorize the process of this response, I argue that the "conceptualization of victimhood," or the discourses used to delineate the victimhood of nations and their people, shapes the responses to disaster. These conceptualizations are in turn reflected in, affirmed by, and constructed through the media. This explanation extends previous approaches by incorporating an element of constructivism and holds explanatory power for subsuming all responses—whether they be NGO relief, government aid, or the donation of individuals. I illustrate this argument by analyzing the disasters in Haiti (2010) and Japan (2011) as recent large-scale catastrophes that affected two very different kinds of countries. In examining the media portrayals of and humanitarian responses to these disasters, I demonstrate how abstract notions of ideal/non-ideal victimhood can carry concrete real-world implications. 
Advisors: Carrie Spearin, Naoko Shibusawa
Keywords: Constructivism, Public Discourse Analysis, Critical Media Studies, Victimhood, Humanitarian Response
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Trending Towards Democracy: What Explains Holdouts to Democracy Promotion?
Matthew Ryklin
What explains holdouts to democracy promotion? Over the past two decades, the European Union has successfully overseen the transition of many former communist and soviet states to democracy. Yet the EU has been unable to make progress with nearby Belarus. A prominent two-dimensional framework for analyzing international influence on regime change explains success of democracy promotion in degrees of leverage and linkage. While empirical evidence shows that external influence is less successful with low linkage between the promoter and target country, less is known about the mechanisms underlying leverage. Further, the long-term effects of leverage on linkage itself are unknown. I argue that in cases that lack linkage, leverage is not only ineffective but also counterproductive. This deepens our understanding of the democracy promotion process and implies a reevaluation of current policy. Analyzing EU leverage on Belarus since 1991, I illustrate how Belarusian linkage to Russia has rendered EU efforts impotent. Belarus borders the EU in Eastern Europe; as such, its history, location, and continued opposition make it an effective comparison to successful democracy promotion cases. If leverage is counterproductive in cases such as this, then long-term strategies that aim to create linkage should be further analyzed and reconsidered. 
Advisors: Linda Cook, Sergei Khrushchev
Keywords: Democracy Promotion, European Union, Belarus, Leverage, Linkage
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