Office: Social Sciences 405
Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2013
M.A. University of Notre Dame, 2002
B.A. Harvard University, 2000
I have three projects ongoing. One is on democratic disenchantment in the Philippines and elsewhere across the Global South. I focus on people’s experience of democracy and how it has changed over time and seek to situate this experience structurally and temporally. I also draw a link between the ascendance of an illiberal vision of democracy and the explosive growth of the middle class in the developing world. This work has appeared in Democratization, Social Forces, Qualitative Sociology, and International Sociology.
My second project is on corruption. I aim to develop a distinctly sociological approach to corruption centered on the idea of corruption as socially embedded. I’m working with two collaborators on an edited volume called The Sociology of Corruption.
Third, I’m on an interdisciplinary team studying urbanization in Cambodia. I’m doing an ethnography of rural migrants to Phnom Penh.
In general, I’m interested in social transformations in the Global South, Southeast Asia particularly, and my research focuses on the Philippines, Cambodia, and Singapore. Topically, I study democracy, corruption, urbanization, segregation, social inequality, and “populism” (I dislike the term). Theoretically, I spend a lot of time thinking about how political institutions structure experience and how experience shapes political subjectivity, the relation between social and spatial boundaries and when inequality comes to be felt as stigma, and what freedom means sociologically. I’m committed to theorizing “from the Global South,” or reconstructing conceptual categories in light of Southern realities, and enthusiastic about sociology as a mode of explanation that can help us grasp aspects of reality that other modes (biological, psychological, economic) can’t.
My previous work looked at the relationship between the urban poor and middle class in Manila as located in slums and upper- and middle-class enclaves. I sought to connect this relationship with urban structure on the one hand and political dissensus on the other. In the process, I highlighted the role of class in shaping urban space, social life, and politics. I wrote a book on the topic, The Patchwork City, as well as several articles.