Watson Institute at Brown University
International Relations

Honors Thesis Abstracts 2016

Chinese “Paisanos” in Guadalajara, Mexico:Rethinking South-South Migration Flows
Aida Patricia Palma Carpio
What are the processes and mechanisms that initiate, perpetuate, and give continuity to long-distance South-South migration flows? Scholarship of international migration has historically emphasized the study of South-North Migration. While South-South Migration is not new, research over the past decade finds that it consists primarily of back-and-forth seasonal labor and transit route migration occurring predominantly at an intra-regional level. However, these studies do not account for newer South-South Migration flows between countries that are geographically distanced. I argue that long-distance South- South Migration is best understood as long-term and economically driven migration. Migrants undergo high initial costs expecting to find opportunities of capital accumulation and upward mobility in the receiving society. Based on nearly three months of ethnographic research in 2015, I evaluate the case of Chinese restaurant and cultural shop sector immigrants in Guadalajara, Mexico. I find that social connections are fundamental to long-distance South-South movements, that low-skill international migrants find opportunities in urban pockets of development in the Global South, and that long-distances encourage family immigration—which promotes long-term settlement in the receiving society. Thus, long-distance South-South Migration exhibits similar traits to South-North Migration, and these similarities display beginnings of a bottom-up globalization processes in the Global South.
Keywords: South-South Migration (SSM), South-North Migration (SNM), social networks, transnational migration, economic inclusion.
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Rethinking Security Policies: Determining Aggressiveness through Economic Preponderance and Strategic Partnerships—the Case of China
Kevin Dhali
What factors determine a country’s security policies? The realist camp proposes the Hegemonic Stability Theory, the Power Transition Theory, and the Rogue State Doctrine to claim rival states as determinants of security policies. Liberal internationalism, meanwhile, postulates partnership and cooperation as determinants of security policies. Moving beyond this general insight, I posit a more comprehensive framework, which correlates better with the modern notion of security. My framework recognizes both the self-reliance and strategic cooperation facets of security, while acknowledging the current global trend for economic advancements through international trading systems. Hence, my framework combines a country’s economic preponderance with strategic partnerships to serve as determinants of security policies. Examining the cases of China-Indonesia and China-Iran relations, I conduct process tracing and path dependency methodologies within longitudinal analyses of both cases, before applying the convergence theory to test my hypothesis. I analyze how China’s economic preponderance incentivizes the formation of strategic partnerships, before eventually determining security policies. Using the two cases, my framework also incorporates partnerships with different typologies of nation’s power status. Given that China is not the only country currently enjoying exponential economic growths, this thesis has broader implications for both China’s rise and other economically preponderant countries post-globalization.
Keywords: security policies, China’s rise, economic preponderance, strategic partnerships, post-globalization
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Examining the International Political Economy of the Firm: The Dynamics of State Aggression in Georgian-Russian Trade 1996-2014
James Janison
How does state aggression influence a firm’s export decision? Existing theory of interstate peace as a condition for trade argues that state aggression –state acts of hostile coercion such as invasion or embargo– prompts uncertainty among market actors, one result of which is export deterrence. Moving beyond this general insight, I posit a more nuanced political economy of the firm in which a fluid dynamic between idiosyncratic political outlook and market factors determines a firm’s proclivity to avoid risk, shaping its export decisions under state aggression. My framework adapts the concept of risk-aversion as posited by behavioral economics, integrating risk consideration with other export factors from international trade theory. Taking the 2006 Russian embargo on Georgian agricultural goods as a critical juncture of state aggression, this framework incorporates both process-tracing of firm-level interview data and differences-in-differences economic modeling to understand how Georgian firms altered their export practices in response to state aggression. This mixed methods approach allows future research to systematize dynamics between firm-level political outlook and market factors, which purely quantitative trade approaches cannot do. Because Georgia is not unique in that Russia targets its economy for political leverage, this thesis also has broader implications for Post-Soviet political economy.
Keywords: international trade, Georgia, embargo, post-Soviet, hegemonic stability theory, mixed methods analysis
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