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MPSA Highlights

6 April 2011

This is what the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton looks like during MPSA, but with fewer men in leather. Shared with cc license from Flickr.

Since Seth Masket’s MPSA highlights seems limited to Americanist papers, I thought I’d give a few shoutouts to my fellow Comparativists at the annual meeting in Chicago:

  • I went to my first ever roundtable (FYI: it was actually square, facing an audience), and even though it was at 8:30am on Saturday, it was well attended. The topic was “Challenges and Opportunities of Sub-national Data Collection and Analysis in Comparative Research.” And just because we were in the same cohort at UCLA doesn’t mean I’m biased, but Brian Min kinda stole the show with his encouragement of Comparativists to seek out existing data, primarily geo-coded data, joined to variables of interest to political scientists (“spatial join”). For those unfamiliar with Brian’s work, I’d recommend starting with his cross-national study that uses nighttime lights to measure public goods provision.
  • On the same panel, I learned from Joel Sawat Selway’s stand-in and AidData colleague Michael Findley that they are in the process of collecting information on all foreign aid that has been received in Malawi since independence.
  • Ph.D. Candidate Keith Weghorst (U Florida) presented preliminary analysis of original survey data he collected in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania that highlighted characteristics of voters that supported opposition candidates. He found that those who are more oppressed seem more emboldened to support opposition candidates. Though Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) continues to dominate in TZ, the opposition doubled its seats in the most recent election. Another interesting finding of Weghorst’s: women are less likely to vote for the opposition.
  • Another graduate student, Ben Pasquale at NYU, presented an exploratory paper on social cohesion following civil conflict in Nepal. The project builds on some previous work he’s done (with Cyrus Samii and Michael Gilligan) that found communities with greater exposure to violence during Nepal’s civil war had significantly greater levels of social capital.
  • I won’t engage in any shameless self-promotion, but I will say that everyone in our panel on local politics and governance in Africa didn’t want to leave the room when our 8:30am timeslot was up (and there were only 3 empty chairs).

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