IR Honors Students and Thesis Abstracts

Kate Bradley

Cohort: 2023

Combat in the Commanding Heights: Gauging Impacts of China's Rare Earths Monopoly on US Energy Security

Metals are the fuel of the future. Rare Earth Elements (REEs), in particular, are a group of 17 metals crucial to EVs and wind turbines because of their unique magnetic properties. In the late 1980s, China began to refine Rare Earth Metals aggressively. A decade later, they dominated global production and now account for 80-90% of REE production. Given the necessity of REE-enabled technologies, it is widely assumed that China’s monopoly over REE production is detrimental to the US’s long-term energy security. However, this hypothesis has not been empirically verified, nor has its magnitude been measured. This thesis aims to quantify the US-China REE supply chain reliance. First, I investigate the performance of REE-reliant US companies during supply shocks. Next, I assess these companies for four key factors indicating supply chain reliance. This reveals which, if any, of these factors have historically dictated performance most. The findings of this study are useful to those who wish to better understand the resource-energy security nexus and the mechanisms of supply chain reliance.  

Ana Chen

Cohort: 2023

Diaspora of Memory: Chinese American Historiographies of the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance

How do diaspora communities construct historiographies of their homelands? The majority of literature on collective memory and intergenerational trauma is concerned with temporal inheritances of memory, but few thinkers have considered how memory may be crystallized and transmitted across space, from homelands to diasporas. My thesis compares diaspora and homeland memories of Japanese atrocities committed during the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance, fought in mainland China between 1937 and 1945, with an original survey study and interviews. I aim to quantify and explain an empirical phenomenon I witnessed while traveling through China in 2021: that my fellow second-generation Chinese Americans (those born in the United States) harbored greater and less nuanced degrees of anti-Japanese anger than mainland Chinese youth our age, despite the former’s spatial and temporal distance from the mainland.

Stephen Queener

Cohort: 2023

The Political Power of the Ban on War: Development, Practice, and a Defense of Legalism

Since 2001 onwards, International legal scholars have suggested that the international rule of law has fallen into a downward spiral. According to somewhere perspectives nowhere is this clearer than within the jus ad bellum, the international law governing the use of force, as wars operating under new exceptions have increased in frequency, demonstrating the laws failure to constrain conflict. Once novel mechanisms like the international criminal court aggression statute are unable to effectively prosecute violators. From this perspective, the actual power of the jus ad bellum seems to be non-existent, but is that really the case? The law, although open to vast interpretation, remains the de facto language through which conflicts are justified.  In contrast to this pessimistic outlook found within primarily liberal institutionalist literature, my research project attempts to provide empirical evidence to new constructivist theories which have tried to demonstrate understanding the continued and consistent power of international law. By investigating both the development of the jus ad bellum and how it has been used by states in UNGA resolutions, my thesis will investigate whether the history and practice of the law is truly consistent with the often-stated story of the decline of a Nuremburg consensus, or if it better aligns with the constructivist claim that the jus ad bellum’s power is better understood as permissive political tool for legitimating the conflicts of states with the ability to invoke it. 

Rachelle Rodriguez

Cohort: 2023

During the 1970s, the British Empire in the Pacific began to shrink as an increasing number of islands became sovereign. Literature is firm on the stance that this timeline of decolonization was largely led by Britain’s own interests and agendas. However, the extent of the islands’ autonomy during this process is much less discussed. This thesis aims to understand how nonviolent independence movements influence each other while separating from a colonizing power. Under the British Empire, how did the Pacific Islands interpret and influence each other’s movements toward independence? Did they use each other’s journeys as blueprints for a successful departure from Britain? Through textual analysis of indigenous leaders’ personal writings and political archival documents, I seek to find any references to other islands that independence leaders may have cited as their own inspiration, and I will critically analyze the rhetoric of several political parties across the Pacific in order to observe any similarities in language.

Natalie Adams-Menendez

Cohort: 2022

Previous academic literature indicates that the United States has used the rhetorics of democracy, international norms, and national security to justify its foreign military interventions from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Kerton-Johnson 2010). However, scholars have failed to substantially investigate the use of human rights rhetoric. When the United States has intervened militarily in a foreign country, how has it used human rights rhetoric to justify its military action? Which human rights does the U.S. cite, and how do these statements match the reality of the human rights conditions on the ground for each case? To answer these questions, I conducted original textual analysis of 60 presidential speeches from the American Presidency Project and compared human rights justifications from these speeches to the actual human rights situations of each case. Through my research, I critically analyze the existence and political implications of the invocation of human rights rhetoric in the past, present, and future of American foreign policy. This thesis finds that American presidents historically have used human rights rhetoric to justify U.S. foreign military intervention, particularly during responses to humanitarian crises in the 1990s and more recently since its 2011 intervention in Libya. Further, within these justifications presidents most often invoke the rhetoric of personal integrity rights, such as the human right to "life, liberty, and security." American presidents frequently portray U.S. foreign policy as addressing human rights violations and by documenting this practice, this thesis contributes to our understanding of U.S. foreign policy and how it is justified to domestic and foreign publics.  

Thesis:

Adams-Menendez, N. (2022). A New Rhetorical Legacy? Humanitarianism, Human Rights, and US Foreign Military Intervention (1980-2020)

Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE.

Brooke Beyer

Cohort: 2022

What role do textbooks and educational materials have in institutionalizing officially-sanctioned narratives of the past? How can history education be used to inculcate national identity and inform collective historical memory? My research seeks to answer these questions with regard to the case of modern Britain, specifically how the British education system has shaped the collective historical memory of the British Empire since 1900. Through textual analysis of history textbooks from 1900-1960 and an original survey connecting educational experience with opinions about the empire, I seek to critically analyze the dominant narratives of the empire within educational materials from the twentieth century to the present and analyze their impact on collective memory. My empirical research finds that the national history curriculum has institutionalized a glorified view of the past while omitting key historical episodes that do not fit the narrative of imperialism as a “civilizing mission.” The thesis concludes by examining how education reform can be leveraged to promote truth, reconciliation, and justice at the systemic level in Britain and other postcolonial societies.

Thesis:

Beyer, B. (2022). Education, Collective Memory and Transitional Justice in postcolonial Britain

Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE.

Justin-Casimir Braun

Cohort: 2022

In 2015 and 2016, more than a million refugees arrived in Germany. How did this Summer of Migration impact native Germans’ understanding of who belongs to the German community and who does not? My thesis initially establishes that attitudes towards all immigrant groups except refugees improved during the refugee crisis. Why might this be the case? I investigate two potential causal pathways: First, I investigate the impact of county-level exposure to refugees on attitudes towards incumbent immigrant groups using a cross-sectional and a differences-in-differences design. While the cross-sectional analysis indicates that increased refugee presence on the county-level leads to improved attitudes towards other outgroups, the differences-in-differences design yields no conclusive findings. Second, I examine whether the national news media coverage drives the attitudinal shift, by analyzing the salience and sentiment of coverage on various immigrant groups. I show that the salience of other immigrant groups decreased relative to the coverage on refugees. The sentiment analysis indicates that the sentiment in national news coverage of incumbent immigrant groups improved somewhat during the refugee crisis, relative to coverage of refugees. Together these findings suggests that Germany’s “boundary of belonging” shifted to become more inclusive of non-refugee immigrants, which are culturally “close” to the native population as a result of the 2015/2016 refugee inflow. These findings present an important case study of how a homogenous society’s definitions of inclusion and exclusion adjust in the face of increased immigration. 

Thesis:

Braun, J. (2022). Germany’s Changing ‘Boundary of Belonging’: Anti-Immigrant Attitudes amidst the Refugee Crisis 2015

Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE.

Sharon Du

Cohort: 2022

Current scholarship has identified distinct styles of propaganda produced by the Chinese government. Huang (2015) describes “hard” propaganda as propaganda designed to signal state capacity rather than persuade; by contrast, Yang (2013) illustrates how “soft” propaganda advances narratives of everyday heroism to deflect from structural critique. However, literature on hard and soft propaganda remains bifurcated, even as both styles rapidly alternate in the Chinese information environment. My thesis offers the first empirical study of hard and soft propaganda, investigating whether distinct styles of propaganda produce different effects, whether propaganda variants interact with one another, and how this might contribute to autocratic resilience. I conduct an original survey experiment with over 650 mainland Chinese participants, who are treated with hard and/or soft propaganda based on the Three Child Policy. I find that citizens are significantly more likely to share and enjoy soft propaganda, and less likely to identify it as “political propaganda” in comparison to hard propaganda. Both hard and soft propaganda encourage citizens to seek redress through official channels, while soft propaganda also stirs an entrepreneurial response. Though hard and soft propaganda create political backlash, exposure to both varieties also makes it harder for participants to identify soft propaganda as political propaganda, and easier for participants to identify hard propaganda as political propaganda. I conclude that hard and soft propaganda result in distinct effects, and that a diverse informational strategy may reinforce autocracy over time.

Thesis:

Du, S. (2022). Hard and Soft Propaganda: Marketing Autocracy in Contemporary China

Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE.

Alex Durham

Cohort: 2022

Euroscepticism has been on the rise in Europe for the past two decades and saw its first major political win in the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016. Scholars feared this “Brexit” referendum would spark a wave of Euroscepticism to wash over the continent and prompt more “leave” referendums, but the drawn out negotiations over a withdrawal deal have dampened much of the European public’s Eurosceptic fervor. How have Eurosceptic parties reacted in the post-Brexit era? In this thesis, I use a combination of Eurosceptic party manifesto data, Eurobarometer survey data, and case studies of specific Eurosceptic parties to assess to what extent the rhetoric of Eurosceptic parties changed in reaction to Brexit, and explore the factors driving these changes. My analysis suggests that hard Eurosceptic rhetoric, which is rhetoric advocating for a member state to leave the EU, dropped slightly in the aftermath of Brexit. This thesis contributes to the literatures on Eurosceptic thought, European Union cohesion and empirical studies that use rhetoric as a measure to gauge political party intentions.

Thesis:

Durham, A. (2022). How Eurosceptic Party Rhetoric is Changing in the Post-Brexit Era

Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE.

Zimeng "Lily" Liu

Cohort: 2022

Protecting data privacy of refugees is important because unauthorized disclosure of refugees' sensitive information or coerced data collection can endanger their safety, well-being, and agency. This thesis evaluates the extent to which the U.S. government, nonprofits, and international organizations protect refugees’ data privacy during the resettlement process in the United States. Through analyzing relevant data privacy policies, as well as in-depth interviews with both refugees and practitioners, I track the quality of nine key components of data privacy, stakeholder incentives and implementation challenges both in theory and in practice. This thesis finds that government actors are most prone to systematic data privacy violations due to administration changes and insufficient protocols of obtaining refugees’ meaningful consent. Nonprofits, on the other hand, are most prone to accidental data privacy violations through unauthorized access of refugees’ identification documents and delaying refugees the right of access. In general, staffing shortage, redundant information systems, and refugees’ susceptibility to identity scams could create more data privacy risks. Interviews with refugees also suggest that several factors, including power dynamics and the lack of clear explanations, may create meaningful barriers that prevent refugees from objecting to unwanted information disclosure. Potential causes of refugee data privacy violations, data-system mapping, and stakeholder recommendations identified in this thesis can inform future studies in examining data privacy vulnerabilities more systematically and improve data privacy protection for a wider range of refugees in the future.

Thesis:

Liu, L. (2022). "Not Just a Barcode": A Descriptive Analysis of Data Privacy Protection for Refugees Resettling in the United States

Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE.