Rory Truex (Political Science) studies the nature of representation in an authoritarian parliament, specifically the politics surrounding China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), which meets once a year to rubber stamp the Communist Party’s policy decisions. He spent a year doing fieldwork in Beijing and found that although most observers and citizens dismiss NPC deputies as “tone-deaf” and disconnected, some of the deputies’ policy proposals actually reflect the concerns of their geographic constituents. Despite having no electoral accountability, many deputies are beginning to adhere to representational norms and take their responsibilities seriously. In addition, he found that economic advantages accrue to deputies who are CEOs, boosting their company’s share price by about 3 percent. Using statistical analysis and interviews, he found that compared to other firms in the same industry, companies whose CEO was a deputy had an operating profit margin between 7 and 7.5 percentage points higher in a given year, suggesting that an intangible “reputation boost” from NPC membership opens doors and boosts confidence in a firm.
Rory’s work was featured in the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report as well as in The New York Times (Chinese edition), Phoenix International magazine, and the Epoch Times. He won the Westview Press Award for best graduate student paper at the MPSA 2012 Annual Conference, as well as the Best Paper Award at NYU’s 2012 Annual Graduate Student Conference in Political Economy. His essay on the “returns to office” for NPC deputies will be published in a future issue of the American Political Science Review, the premier scholarly journal in the field of political science.
Rory’s dissertation, “Representation Within Bounds,” argues that the Chinese Communist Party deliberately engineers a top-down system of representation to overcome informational uncertainties about citizens’ grievances and to discourage political change. His dissertation committee includes Susan Rose-Ackerman, Thad Dunning (now at University of California, Berkeley), Ken Scheve (Stanford), and Lily Tsai (MIT).
After completing his undergraduate degree from Princeton, Rory worked as a consultant for Bain & Company and for the World Bank. He earned a master’s degree in Economics from Yale in 2012 and will submit his dissertation this summer. He will join Princeton’s Department of Politics and Woodrow Wilson School as an assistant professor in September 2014. He serves on the Board of Trustees for Princeton in Asia, a non-profit organization that creates service opportunities for recent college graduates in Asia. In his spare time, he enjoys playing intramural basketball.
Michael D. Hattem (History) was invited to identify the author of a 12-page document that was found in the attic of a historic house in New York. By analyzing the handwriting and text, he determined that the document was written by Robert R. Livingston (1732–1794), a prominent New York jurist who served in the Second Continental Congress. Livingston was one of the drafters of the Declaration of Independence, along with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Roger Sherman, and he swore in Washington as the first president.
The pages had been lying in a drawer in the attic of the Morris-Jumel Mansion, a museum in Upper Manhattan that served as George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War. An intern at the museum spotted them among unrelated papers and realized that they were something special.
According to The New York Times, “The document was the draft of an urgent plea for reconciliation from the Continental Congress. It was addressed to the people of Britain, not King George III and his government, and began by mentioning ‘the tender ties which bind us to each other’ and ‘the glorious achievements of our common ancestors.’ That was followed by a long list of complaints about the infringement of colonists’ rights, the restrictions on trade and the ‘rigorous acts of oppression which are daily exercised in the Town of Boston.’” The document had been printed in July 1775, but the original manuscript had never been found. The museum sold it for $912,500 at an auction in January.
Michael is writing a dissertation on British North America, “specifically colonists’ historical memory of seventeenth-century Britain and the ways in which it shaped the political culture of the colonies as well as the coming of the American Revolution.” The working title is “‘Their history as a part of ours’: History Culture and Historical Memory in British America, 1720–1776.” His adviser is Joanne Freeman, who, along with Steven Pincus and Benjamin H. Irvin (University of Arizona), form his dissertation committee. He has been a research assistant at the Papers of Benjamin Franklin for almost two years and is a contributing editor at the popular early American history blog, “The Junto.” He is also a contributor to, and the producer of, “The JuntoCast,” a monthly podcast on early American history. In addition, he has written numerous articles for other websites and publications including The Readex Report and the Journal of the American Revolution. He is also the recipient of numerous fellowships from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, among others.
Michael’s academic trajectory has been unusual. He dropped out of high school and moved to New York City where, for many years, he worked such jobs as foot messenger and data entry. In 2007, he enrolled at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and graduated summa cum laude from the City College of New York in 2011. He is currently the graduate student chair of YEAH (Yale Early American Historians), an interdisciplinary group of graduate students and faculty that meets throughout the academic year to discuss works-in-progress by its members and to host guest speakers. Michael currently lives in New Haven with his two sons, Lucien, 8, and Tristan, 7, where what little spare time he has is spent watching Arsenal FC with his boys and playing jump blues and swing guitar.
Luisa Cortesi (Anthropology, Forestry & Environmental Studies) has won a Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship; grants from the Fulbright-Institute of International Education and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research; and at Yale, from the MacMillan Center, the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, Tropical Research Institute, Agrarian Studies, and South Asian Studies Council, to support her research on the floods of North Bihar, India. She was offered, but declined, an award from the American Institute for Indian Studies.
Luisa’s research asks, how do people live in a region periodically destroyed by floods? How do they deal with the scarcity of drinking water while surrounded by vast expanses of water? Focusing on a rural area defined by the rivers flowing from the Himalaya towards the Ganga, she takes an ethnographic approach to wider questions about human adaptation to rapid environmental change and the ways disasters shape knowledge, practice, and technology. Her advisers are Michael Dove and Sivaramakrishnan.
A native of Italy, Luisa earned degrees from the Università degli Studi di Torino, the Université de Fribourg/Universität Freiburg, and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Before entering the joint PhD program in Anthropology and FES at Yale, she worked for several UN agencies and as an applied anthropologist for an innovative development program on floods, water quality, and sanitation. During that time, she experienced first-hand the two “worst floods of the millenium” in 2007 and 2008 in Bihar, India, which inspired her to undertake her dissertation research.
At Yale, Luisa has helped coordinate the South Asia Graduate Colloquium in 2010 and 2011. Also in 2011, she organized a roundtable and series of talks on disasters. She has trained as a yoga instructor and looks forward to volunteering as a therapeutic yoga teacher once she is back in New Haven.