grew up on the Upper West Side of New
York City. I commuted to St.
Ann's school in Brooklyn Heights from where I graduated
in 1983. From 1983 to 1987 I attended
the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where I received a
BA in Political Science.
From September 1988 to June 1989, I studied Chinese and taught
English at Sichuan Normal
University in Chengdu,
the capital of Sichuan
Province. It was there that I met my wife, Isabelle.
From April to June, Chengdu, like many other cities in China
was caught up in the student movement, although the events
outside of Beijing were largely ignored. After the crackdown
in Chengdu, I returned home.
In 1991, I came back to China as a representative for a toy
company. I was stationed in Shanghai,
where I worked closely with state-run import/export companies
and township and village enterprises
throughout the Lower Yangtze Valley. In late 1992, I moved
to Hong Kong and began
production on a new retail line with factories
in the Pearl River Delta, particularly in Dongguan
I returned to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to obtain my Ph.D. in
Political Science in 1994, where I studied under Kenneth Lieberthal.
I conducted fieldwork from February through September 1998
under the auspices of the National Bureau of Asian Research
during which time I worked closely with Michel
Oksenberg and Pitman Potter on the NBR program, "Advancing
Intellectual Property Rights in China." From February
through August 1999 I returned as a Fulbright scholar attached
to the Research Center for Contemporary China at Beijing
University. My dissertation, which I defended in February
2001, focuses on intellectual property in China.
I have written articles on intellectual property in China,
bureaucratic politics, centralization/decentralization, WTO
compliance, and international negotiations and "partial
implementation." My first book, The Politics of Piracy,
covers a number of these topics.
From 2004 to 2008, my research has focused on the politics of
hydropower in China, in which I concluded that during the early-to-mid 2000s, the policy making and policy
implementation process in China has become increasingly pluralized
in the past decade by which groups hitherto ignored or barred
from the policy process are now active participants in it.
This is distinct from democratization in the the barriers
to entry into the political process have been breached by
a certain cluster of actors -- NGOs, the media, and genuinely
"peripheral" officials. I began this project with
my colleague and good friend, Bill
Lowry, with whom I went to China in 2004 to examine the
case of Dujiangyan, in
Sichuan Province (and the epicenter of the 2008 Wenchuan
Earthquake). Since then, I have examined other cases,
including the Nu River
in Yunnan Province. In March 2006, I traveled as far north
as slipping across the border into Tibet
to see the uppermost of the proposed 13 hydropower stations,
that of Songta (in fact,
we almost did not make it: we were delayed for three hours
when the truck in front
of us almost fell over the cliff and then my car
broke down; luckily, the truck caught up with me and let me
sit in the back until
we got to Songta). I have
also explored the hydropower station construction around Dimaluo,
Maji, and other areas.
My book, China's
Water Warriors: Citizen Action and Policy Change (see
"Publications"), that emerged from this research
is now out from Cornell University Press.
In 2010, I began a project in which I analyze the relationship between China and Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge era (1975-1979). I have found that although China spared little expense in its investment of money, materiel, and human capital, it had little influence on Khmer Rouge domestic and foreign policy, due in large part to institutional fragmentation on the two sides. I am currently revising a book manuscript. I have been helped immeasurably by wonderful people at the Cambodian National Archives.
Conducting research in China (and now in Cambodia) is pretty much "like
herding cats." But, as the man says, "I wouldn't
do nuthin' else..."
From 2001 to 2008, I was an assistant professor at Washington
University in St Louis in the Department of Political
Science. I am currently an associate
professor at Cornell
University in the Department
of Government, specializing in Chinese
politics. I hope to extend my area of knowledge to Cambodian
politics as well. I am currently in fourth-year Khmer
language and following Cambodia blogs.
I serve as a core faculty member in the Cornell University’s East Asia Program (EAP), Southeast Asia Program (SEAP), and in the China and Asia Pacific Studies (CAPS) Major. I am on the editorial boards of the Journal of Comparative Politics and Cornell University Press, and on the bord of directors at the Center for Khmer Studies.When I am not behind with my dues, I am a member of the American
Political Science Association, the Association
for Asian Studies, the International
Studies Association, the Midwest
Political Science Association and the National
Committee on US-China Relations. For a more complete summary
of my professional background, please see my curriculum
I live in Ithaca, NY, with Isabelle and our daughter, Sophie.
I am a cat person.
My hobbies are music and collecting
all things Tiki and Maoi.
I also love hiking in and around Ithaca