Schedule Fall 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Moderator: Clyde Wilcox, GU-Q

"Mortgage Market Credit Conditions and U.S. Presidential Elections"
Alexis Antoniades
Associate Professor, Georgetown University

We find that voters reward or punish incumbent Presidential candidates for changes in the local supply of mortgage credit. Adverse shifts in the supply of mortgage credit within the voter’s county reduce support for the incumbent party’s Presidential candidate, while favorable shifts increase support. Our focus is the Presidential election of 2008, which followed an unprecedented swing from very generous mortgage underwriting standards to a severe contraction of mortgage credit. Voters responded by shifting their support away from the Republican Presidential candidate in 2008.  That shift was particularly pronounced in states that typically vote Republican and in swing states.  The magnitude of the effect is large. If the supply of mortgage credit had not contracted from 2004 to 2008, McCain would have received 55% of the votes needed to reverse the outcome of the election. The contraction in mortgage credit supply was six times as important as the increase in the unemployment rate; if unemployment had not increased from 2004 to 2008, that improvement in local labor markets would only have given McCain 9% of the votes needed to win the nine swing states that Bush had won in 2004, but McCain lost in the 2008 election.  We extend our analysis to other Presidential elections from 1996 to 2012 and find interesting differences in results, which suggest that the extent to which incumbents are penalized for credit supply tightening depends on the context in which the tightening occurs, as well as perceptions of the candidates’ advocacy of mortgage credit expansion.*
*The paper on which this presentation is based is a joint work with Charles Calomiris of the Columbia Business School

Alexis Antoniades holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University in New York. He is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, where he teaches courses in International Finance, Macroeconomics, Money and Banking, and Sports Economics. Funded by a three year, $1,050,000 research grant by the Qatar National Research Fund, Dr. Antoniades has undertaken the first micro-study on the economies of the Gulf countries. His research focuses on exchange rates and pricing behavior. In recognizing his expertise on the economies of the Gulf region and in endorsing the quality of his work, Princeton University awarded Dr. Antoniades the prestigious Globalization and Governance Fellowship in Regional Political Economy during the 2012-2013 academic year. A Fulbright/CASP Scholar, Dr. Antoniades also holds a BA in Mathematics (concentration in Finance), a BA in Economics (Honors) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an M.A., and an M.Phil. in Economics from Columbia University. Between 2001 and 2002 he served as an Assistant Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Moderator: Karl Widerquist, GU-Q

Science in Transaction: Networks of Biological Research in the Gulf
Jörg Matthias Determann
Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar

Because of its association with atheism, the theory of evolution has been sensitive and at times censored in the Gulf. Nevertheless, biological research, including research on evolution, has flourished in Arabia, due to networks of exchange involving knowledge, funds, environmental credentials and scientific prestige. This presentation traces these networks through the history of various branches of biology, including botany, conservation research, ornithology and palaeontology. Typical of rentier states, some of the networks consist of vertical patron-client relationships. For example, those in power who are interested in wildlife conservation have offered patronage to desert ecologists. However, just as important have been horizontal links between scientists both within the Gulf region and beyond. Given the strength and importance of these networks, this presentation argues that we should look at the contemporary Arab world as an area interconnected with global science rather than a peripheral region.

Jörg Matthias Determann is Assistant Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. He is the author of Historiography in Saudi Arabia: Globalization and the State in the Middle East (I.B.Tauris, 2014) and a joint winner of the 2013 BRISMES Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Moderator: Amira El Zein, GU-Q

Deserted Archive:  Melville, Clarel, and the Posthuman
Amy Ruth Nestor

The Holy Land of Herman Melville’s Clarel: A Poem and a Pilgrimage (1876) is no human place. When the poem’s title character turns into its desert he finds neither allegory nor origin to still his yearning doubt. The blasted planes and crags of Kedron may be, as the Narrator claims, “Attesting here the Holy Writ—/…In natural way avouching it,” but Clarel cannot read its jagged lines: the century’s revealed doubts have desiccated past allegories of faith, those of science have not yet gathered the strength to take their place, and years of war and failed revolution have revealed the humanist allegories of progressive history as but scrawls of blood. Poised at this narrow moment between received regimes of sense, Clarel and his fellow pilgrims discover, in their place, the desert’s archive—a record of passages inorganic and organic, their separating bounds loosening in the sanded air to reveal shifting glimpses of the posthuman.
I have turned to the post human and the archive in my reading of Clarel for they alone allow me to account for the ways in which Melville’s pilgrims, positioned at their precise historical moment, there confronted with the traces of devastation that mark the Holy Land, find themselves inscribed—the collected histories of the living and dead, human and non-human, engraved upon the landscape, even as the landscape discovers its striations within them. Such discoveries, fitful though they be, grant shape to that slight path into the future toward which Clarel, as the words close, unsteadily turns.

Amy R. Nestor is an Assistant Professor of Literature at Georgetown University-Qatar. She is currently completing a book-length project, Material Silence: Readings in Nineteenth Century Poetics, which interprets the work of Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, and Henry David Thoreau through the lenses of New Materialist and Post humanist thought. She has published on the work Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Emanuel Levinas.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Moderator: Sulagna Mookerjee, GU-Q

“Competition and the Welfare Gains from Transportation Infrastructure: Evidence from the Golden Quadrilateral of India”
Authors: Jose Gonzalo Asturias, Manuel Garcia-Santana, and Roberto Ramos.
Presenter: Jose Gonzalo Asturias

What are the economic channels through which transportation infrastructure affect income? We study this question using a model of internal trade in which states trade with each other. In contrast to the previous literature, we do so in a framework that incorporates pro-competitive gains: changes in transportation costs affect the distribution of markups by affecting the level of competition that firms face. We apply this model to the case of the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ), a large road infrastructure project in India. We discipline the parameters of the model using micro level manufacturing and geospatial data. We find that: i) the project generates large aggregate gains, ii) both standard and pro-competitive gains are quantitatively relevant.

Jose Asturias is an assistant professor of Economics at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He received his Masters and Doctorate in Economics from the University of Minnesota. He attended the University of Pennsylvania where he received a BS in Economics (Wharton) and a BA in Mathematics. 
His research interests include International Trade and Macroeconomics (with a special interest in Growth). On the Trade side, his ongoing projects attempt to investigate how competition in the transportation industry affects welfare gains from trade liberalizations. On the Macro side, his projects study the interaction of financial frictions and entry barriers on growth. He was recently awarded a PEDL grant from the CEPR. 
At Georgetown he teaches courses on International Trade and Macroeconomic Theory. Before coming to Georgetown, he has worked at the Federal Reserve Bank Minneapolis, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Central Bank of Guatemala, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers. In addition, he is a recipient of a Fulbright grant.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Moderator: Ganesh K. Seshan, GU-Q

A Community Hygiene Output-Based Aid Program for Vietnam
Presenter Daniel Westbrook

Coauthored by: Phung Duc Tung, Nguyen Viet Cuong, Nguyen Chi, Daniel Westbrook, Farah Mallah

Despite improvement over the past decades, sanitation and hygiene still present big development challenges in Vietnam. In 2010 only 39.6 percent of rural households in Vietnam had access to flush toilets with septic tanks or sewer pipes. The Community Hygiene Output-Based Aid (CHOBA) approach recognizes that improved sanitation provides private benefits to households as well as substantial public health benefits. While the public benefits justify public or NGO spending to improve sanitation, households should bear part of the cost of improved sanitation. Thus, the CHOBA approach requires households to pre- finance the construction of their sanitary facilities, then provides small rebates to partially cover construction costs. This model creates a high degree of private / public risk sharing while encouraging adoption of better sanitation.
A pilot program was carried out in five provinces in Vietnam; a rigorous impact evaluation was conducted in two of those provinces. The program, implemented by local chapters of the Vietnam Women’s Union, consisted of an information, education, and communications (IEC) phase, a facilitation phase, and cash incentives. Three cash incentive treatments were randomly allocated among communes; a fourth set of communes served as controls (no cash incentives). The first treatment provided Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) to the local People’s Committees as incentives to encourage households to install new sanitary latrines; the CCTs reflected the actual number of documented installations. The second treatment provided cash Rebates to low-income households which did install new sanitary latrines. The third treatment provided both CCTs and Rebates. All treatment households were exposed to the IEC phase of the program.
The impact evaluation exploits data from baseline, midterm, and endline surveys administered to a panel of households in June 2012, December 2013, and March 2015, respectively. The panel included 1,954 households distributed among 130 communes in Hai Duong and Tien Giang provinces. The surveys provide a rich pool of information on the nature of households’ sanitary facilities and the hygiene-related knowledge and behaviors of respondents before, during, and after the project.
In Hai Duong, the CHOBA program had positive and statistically significant impacts on the probabilities that households had septic tank latrines, that the latrines were relatively new, that the latrines were hygienic in construction and upkeep, and on the probability that households lacking sanitary facilities had formed intentions to invest in new facilities within three years. The impacts on hygiene-related knowledge and behaviors were much weaker. In Tien Giang, the CHOBA program’s impacts on households’ facilities and intentions were weak, and the impacts on hygiene-related knowledge and behaviors were nil. The differences across provinces appear to be due to differences in implementation by the local Women’s Unions.

Daniel Westbrook received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1978 and joined the faculty at Georgetown at that time. He joined the School of Foreign Service in Qatar in 2008. His current research interests focus on applied micro-econometrics in economic development and on Vietnam. Professor Westbrook regularly teaches micro-economic principles, international trade, economic development, globalization, economic statistics and econometrics.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Moderator: Harry Verhoeven, GU-Q

"Africa's Resource Boom and After, 2003-2015"
Ricardo Soares de Oliveira
Department of Politics and IR, University of Oxford

This talk will focus on the political and economic consequences of the rise and drastic decline in petroleum prices over the past decade for Africa’s resource-rich states. The talk first outlines two simultaneous processes resulting from the increase in oil prices the early years of the 21st century and the unprecedented flow of resources into African treasuries. The first was the expansion of production and revenues in primarily West African, seasoned exporters such as Angola and Nigeria, and the momentous relevance this had for state-building, state-society relations and patterns of international relations in the subsequent decade. The second process was the opening of a vast new continental frontier of oil and gas exploration, primarily but not only in East Africa, which had immediate political and economic consequences for states such as Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. The talk surveys these impacts, including at the level of heightened international competition and the expectations of transformation that presided over them, before highlighting the many dimensions of economic, political and institutional continuity that the decade of the resource boom did not impact on. The talk will end by discussing the consequences of the decline in oil and gas prices since mid-2014 for African resource-rich states.

Ricardo Soares de Oliveira is an Associate Professor in Comparative Politics (African politics) at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford; Manika & Harjeev Kandhari Fellow at St Peter's College; and a Fellow with the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin. Soares de Oliveira’s research interests include African politics (particularly West and Central Africa), Africa-Asia relations, and the politics of the international economy, especially in the fields of energy, natural resource extraction, state weakness and post-conflict reconstruction. He is the author of Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola Since the Civil War (Hurst Publishers and Oxford University Press US, 2015) and Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea (Hurst Publishers and Columbia University Press, 2007), a co-editor of China Returns to Africa (with Daniel Large and Chris Alden, Hurst/Columbia UP 2008) and The New Protectorates: International Tutelage and the Making of Liberal States (with James Mayall, Hurst/Columbia UP, 2011).


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Moderator: Ian Almond, GU-Q

"Hobbes and Martyrdom"
Arthur Bradley
Professor of Comparative Literature, Lancaster University

In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes takes seriously only one possible exception to the universal rule that governs his political philosophy. It is now commonplace to see Hobbes as one of the architects of the modern biopolitical state because of his radical claim (famously documented by thinkers like Schmitt and Agamben) that politics begins and ends with the common human desire to preserve its bare physical life. As the philosopher himself famously narrates it, man’s desire for self-preservation is not only the basic condition of his life in the state of nature but also the reason why he takes the decision to leave behind that perilous state and enter the Commonwealth. To recall the terms of Hobbes’ Social Covenant, man wills the mighty Leviathan into being precisely because it offers him what he most craves – security of life and protection from death – in exchange for his absolute obedience and subjection. If the philosopher necessarily assumes this desire to survive to be universal – even to the point of regarding suicide and supposedly ‘heroic’ acts of self-sacrifice in war not merely as irrational but unnatural – it is rarely observed that he also recognises the theoretical possibility that there exists a category of man who does not desire the preservation of his own life over and postponement of his death over and above all values. For the earlier Hobbes of, we can find precisely such an uncommon man in the figure of the religious martyr who is apparently all too willing his disobey his worldly Sovereign and lay down his life for his God: ‘Must we resist princes, when we cannot obey them? Truly no; for this is contrary to our civil covenant. What must we do then? Go to Christ by martyrdom’. This paper explores Hobbes' critique of martyrdom from  The Elements of Law Natural and Politic and De Cive to his final position in Leviathan. Why does Leviathan claim that in the modern epoch religious martyrdom is not merely undesirable and unnecessary but actually impossible? 

Arthur Bradley is Professor of Comparative Literature in the Department of English at Lancaster University, UK. He has research interests in critical theory and, in particular, political theology. He is the author of four monographs including Negative Theology and Modern French Philosophy (Routledge, 2004), The New Atheist Novel: Fiction, Philosophy and Polemic after 9/11 (Bloomsbury, 2010) and Originary Technicity: The Theory of Technology from Marx to Derrida (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). He has also edited four collections of essays including most recently two volumes on politics, philosophy and religion entitled The Politics to Come: Power, Modernity and the Messianic (Bloomsbury, 2010) and The Messianic Now: Religion, Politics, Culture (Routledge, 2011). He is also the author of more than 30 journal articles and book chapters in such publications as Paragraph, Literature and Theology, Textual Practice and English Studies and is general editor of the new book series Political Theologies (Bloomsbury). In 2015, he is working on a new book on political theology entitled Unbearable Life.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Moderator: Afyare Elmi, Qatar University

"Nelson Mandela and Changing Agendas of Pan-Africanism: African Liberation Politics from 1950 to the Present "
Harry Verhoeven

To people around the world, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was and will remain the most recognisable face of the Pan-Africanist struggle against imperialism, colonialism and racism. However, the focus in analysing Mandela’s political thought, actions and legacy has mostly rested on his domestic achievements: the mobilisation against Apartheid; the averting of civil war in the early 1990s; leaving the presidency after a single five year term; his personal journey during imprisonment as a moral example for post-1994 national reconciliation in South Africa. In this lecture, I concentrate on Madiba as an international activist and statesman and explore the complex relationship between Pan-Africanism’s most illustrious advocate and the political projects that have dominated the African ideological landscape throughout his life. While intuitively appealing to millions on the African continent, the idea of Mandela as a transcendent figure, both in his actual politics and his concept of liberation from people beyond South Africa’s borders, is not as obvious as it may seem with hindsight. How did Nelson Mandela become a Pan-Africanist? How much did his struggle shape that of other African liberation fighters and how was it shaped in turn by ideas emanating far away from Apartheid South Africa? And what tensions and trade-offs lurked (and still lurk) underneath the narrative of Mandela, the hero of all Africans?

Harry Verhoeven is an Assistant Professor of Government at the School of Foreign Service (Qatar) of Georgetown University. He holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford where he was also a postdoctoral fellow from 2012 to 2014. He remains the Convenor of the Oxford University China-Africa Network (OUCAN) and is the author of Water, Civilization and Power in Sudan: The Political Economy of Military-Islamist State Building (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and, together with Prof Philip Roessler, of Why Comrades Go To War: Liberation Politics and the Outbreak of Africa's Deadliest Conflict (Hurst, forthcoming)


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Moderator: Mohamed Zayani, GU-Q

The Making of World Literature in Turkey
Firat Oruc
Assistant Professor of World Literature, GU-Q

My paper examines the connections between national identity and translation by investigating the construction of a state-sponsored world literature canon as a project national “culture planning” in Turkey. With the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk introduced a series of radical cultural reforms aimed to leave the Ottoman/Islamic past irrevocably behind. These measures promoted identification with Europe as “the universal civilization” while simultaneously emphasizing Turkish identity as the foundation for the new nation. One of the most significant Kemalist revolutions was dil devrimi, or “the language revolution,” which mandated that all “old, fossilized” Arabic and Persian words be abandoned completely and replaced by ur-Turkish equivalents. In this paper, I focus on the ways in which this architectonic language revolution shaped the translation of “World Classics” into modern Turkish in line with a strong commitment to the ideals of humanism and secularism.

Firat Oruc is Assistant Professor of World Literature at Georgetown University School in Qatar. He received his Ph.D. in Literature from Duke University in 2010. His teaching specialties include contemporary global literature, 20th century Anglophone writing, literatures of the Middle East, and world cinema. Before joining Georgetown-Qatar, he taught in the Comparative Literary Studies program at Northwestern University (2011-2013) and the departments of English and Comparative Literature at University of California, Los Angeles (2010-2011). His recent work has appeared in English Language Notes, Criticism and Postcolonial Text. He is currently working on two book projects: (1) Translation, national humanism and culture planning in Turkey from 1930-1970; (2) Arab-Turkish literary relations from the Nahda to the present.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Moderator: Patrick Laude, GU-Q

Christian Love, Muslim Love: How To Get Islam into the European Intellectual Debate
Adrien Leites
Associate Professor at the University of Paris-Sorbonne

Department of Arabic Studies

Adrian Leites' recent book Christian Love, Muslim Love brings together texts by Augustine and Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazzālī on love (of other people, not of God). It produces the texts both in original language and in translation, and ends with a glossary that attempts to show the various resources provided by Latin and Arabic. Working on the texts and their language enables the author to identify specific views (as opposed to general categories such as eros and agape, interested and disinterested love) that distinguish the two authors from one another. Whenever possible, these views are shown to persist —with some degree of change— among contemporary Christian and Muslim authors. The overall aim is to establish a dialogue of traditions, replacing the monologue on love or the assimilatory dialogue prevalent today.
In this lecture, Prof. Leites attempts at developing the political aspect of the project, while illustrating its philosophical character. The following questions will be offered to the audience: Why should Islam be part today of a debate such as that on love? How is it absent from the debate, and what is the role played by Muslims in this absence?  With a view to integrating Islam, why is a dialogue of traditions necessary? Why is it important for such dialogue to associate the Muslim with the Christian tradition, and Arabic with Latin? Can this project help actual coexistence between Christians and Muslims, and will ill-intended people not try to use it to widen the distance separating them? Discussing these questions at GU-Q will hopefully contribute to the intellectual and ethical renewal needed today both by the Muslim world and the West, and made possible by their closer connection.

Adrien Leites'  Ph. D. years at Princeton, as well as the two years he spent in Damascus, were devoted to the study of Ḥadīth. When he moved back to Paris in 2000, he decided to enter the world of Kalām, and look there for material relevant to the European debate. When he met Ghazzālī, I thought he had found a plentiful source.  Ghazzālī's treatment of love, in particular, seemed to bring fresh perspectives to a much-debated issue. At the same time, Ghazzālī felt his understanding of Ghazzālī was limited by his direct confrontation with contemporary culture. A more germane counterpart was needed. Such counterpart was found in Augustine, central to the Christian tradition in a way similar to Ghazzālī’s position in Islam. Having a merely superficial knowledge of Augustine, Leites devoted several years to the study of his writings. Amour chrétien, amour musulman is the outcome of these two inquiries.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Moderator: Rory David Miller, GU-Q

“Fragmented Sovereignty and the use of Air Power: The Case of South Arabia and Yemen”
Clive Jones

Professor of Regional Security, University of Durham, UK

This paper sets out to compare and contrast the normative use as well as practical impact of air power among what it calls fragmented sovereignties. It does so by comparing the operational use of ‘air policing’ by the British across South Arabia between 1920 – 1960s, with the use of  Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Drones  by the United States today across the  self-same skies of modern day Yemen.  In so doing, it  seeks to address one key issue:  how effective has the use of air power been in achieving set  strategic and operational goals  and does its direct impact on the ground  necessarily alienate  the target populations  and increase support for a  rebellion or insurgency? The obvious answer, and in some cases the right one, might be an unambiguous yes. Equally however, our implicit understanding of the political context in which such attacks take place are informed by a Weberian construct of the State.  The proposition put here is this might offer an inaccurate assessment over how airpower has been perceived, understood and indeed used by peoples where a communal  sense of identity is parochial and sovereign authority remains fragmentary at best.

Clive Jones is Professor of Regional Security at the University of Durham.  He completed his PhD at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1994. Having taught for a year in the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth, he moved to the University of Leeds where he eventually came to hold a Chair in Middle East Studies and International Politics. After 17 years at Leeds, he  moved to the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University  in February 2013 where he now holds a Chair in Regional Security (Middle East ).  He was elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2011, and is currently the Chairman of the European Association of Israel Studies (EAIS).  In 2002 he was a Senior Visiting Research Fellow, University of Haifa. His book on Britain and the Yemen Civil (2010) was the subject of a BBC documentary in 2010.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Moderator: Alexis Antoniades, GU-Q

Transition Enhances Returns to Schooling through Improved Labor Markets: Vietnam 1998 – 2010
Zhaoyang Hou
Coauthored by Daniel Westbrook & Zhaoyang Hou
Georgetown University School in Qatar

Positive effects of schooling on a variety of outcomes provide incentives for investment in human capital. These incentives are particularly important in developing countries because education presents a route out of poverty for countries as well as for individuals. The quest to measure the impact of schooling on various economic outcomes has produced many fine papers. Several advances in econometrics have been directed at overcoming the challenge posed by the likely endogeneity of schooling in the regressions of interest. Lately, a number of empirical papers have examined changes in the payoffs to education as economic development or economic transition proceeds. One important maintained assumption in this work is that workers with various levels of education have access to labor markets sophisticated enough to provide good matches. Some papers use distance from the household to the nearest market, town, or city to measure market access but few focus on the nature of the labor market of interest.  We exploit detailed data in a series of household living standards measurement surveys for Viet Nam to develop measures of local labor market intensity and sophistication; the latter is based on an index of job-type diversity. We also develop external instruments for schooling and topographic-based instruments to address the potential endogeneity of labor market intensity and sophistication. We estimate the impact of schooling on wages, both at the mean and at various wage quantiles, during the course of Viet Nam’s economic transition. In an early version of this work the impact of schooling on real per-capita household consumption was found to be economically substantial, increasing over time, and powerfully enhanced by the degree of labor- market intensity.

Daniel Westbrook received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1978 and joined the faculty at Georgetown at that time. He joined the School of Foreign Service in Qatar in 2008. His current research interests focus on applied micro-econometrics in economic development and on Vietnam. Professor Westbrook regularly teaches micro-economic principles, international trade, economic development, globalization, economic statistics and econometrics.
Dr. Zhaoyang Hou is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Georgetown University in Qatar. He earned his PhD degree in economics at the George Washington University. Prior to joining Georgetown University, Dr. Hou taught economics at the National University of Singapore. Dr. Hou’s research interests are in development economics, applied econometrics, and international economics. In particular, his research focuses on micro-economic development issues in China: rural poverty, inequality, returns to education, determinants of income and consumption, and how those outcomes are affected by openness and market development. One of his papers was recently published in The Review of Economics and Statistics.