Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Virtual Student Foreign Service Opportunity at State Department

Do you enjoy creating visual content? Are you familiar with tracking social media statistics? The Department of State is looking for an intern to help create social media content and prepare analytics reports for the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau’s Twitter and Facebook platforms.

Find the full project description here.

Apply here, using project code: STATE-USA-EAP-220.

2 Months in Taipei, Taiwan (Vlog)

A quick update about my time in Taiwan.

Thinking about fieldwork in Uttar Pradesh

This summer’s fieldwork is partly a time to gather information for a paper on India’s new corporate social responsibility rules. However, it is also an opportunity to experience what it takes to translate research plans into reality, to think carefully about how to adapt fieldwork strategies to different sorts of research objectives, and to experiment with approaches to staying healthy and productive in very different field environments.

Part of my work looks at the organizational effects of changes in funding for non-profits in India. Here, I have had reasonable success in speaking with NGO officials, retired bureaucrats, academics, and others who have direct experience in this area. Perhaps they have been involved in regulating the non-profit sector, raising or allocating funds, or managing relations between non-profits and funders. These conversations are fairly easy, since I am talking with people about their areas of professional expertise. However, a second part of my work considers how the size of the non-state service sector affects relations between citizens and politicians. This is in some ways a more abstract question, and it requires that I speak with people about issues that they may think about only occasionally, and that may in fact be quite far removed from their day-to-day concerns. Although one could simply ask a farmer or laborer whether a new initiative in their village has changed their relationship with the state and with politics, in the end this is likely not a fruitful approach. Rather, one might ask people more indirect questions about their relations with political actors, look for evidence of behavioral change that might have resulted from a changed context, and consider whether the introduction of a large NGO initiative has led people to talk about politicians and the state differently. This style of work is quite different and, in some ways more challenging for an outside researcher, than speaking with government and non-profit professionals.

I have experimented with both approaches this summer, and in urban as well as rural settings. One important outcome will be a more informed dissertation prospectus. Not only do I know much more about my area of substantive interest than when I arrived in India in early June, but I have a more grounded perspective about how to push the project forward. Given the understanding I hope to build and the information I hope to collect, with whom should I be spending my time, how should I structure my research plan, and what challenges will I face? On a personal level, how is the experience of elite interviews different from more immersive ethnographic work, and what does this imply for how I live day-to-day in the field?

Several weeks remain in my summer travels. I’ve taken this week “off” for writing and a bit of relaxation in the hills. I’ll jump back into fieldwork next week as I travel to India’s financial hub, Mumbai, to speak with people involved in shaping corporate approaches to CSR and to see what several such initiatives look like on the ground in an urban setting. 

Sam Frantz
 is a doctoral student in political science, and a recipient of a 2017 Sigur Center Grant for Asian Field Research.

Lucknow University

Metro construction in Lucknow

Hardoi district, Uttar Pradesh

Hardoi Station, Uttar Pradesh

Monday, July 17, 2017

Part-time Contract Worker - Analyst, Party Watch Initiative

The Party Watch Initiative, a program affiliated with the Project 2049 Institute, is searching for a contract worker to serve up to one year as a part-time analyst.

Party Watch Initiative/Project 2049 Institute Introduction: 

The Party Watch Initiative is a new program that specializes in analysis of open source Chinese language materials. Its goal is to provide the China-watching community with valuable information on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) activities, viewpoints, and developments. Its signature products include weekly, quarterly, and annual reports that study official Chinese sources in order to conduct original analysis from the lens of the country’s most powerful political institution. The result is a unique program that promotes better understanding of the CCP regime, which is the heart of all decision-making in China.

The Project 2049 Institute, established in January 2008, seeks to guide decision makers toward a more secure Asia by the century’s mid-point. The organization fills a gap in the public policy realm through forward-looking, region-specific research on alternative security and policy solutions. Its interdisciplinary approach draws on rigorous analysis of socioeconomic, governance, military, environmental,technological and political trends, and input from key players in the region, with an eye toward educating the public and informing policy debate.

Job Summary:

The Party Watch Initiative is recruiting part-time contract workers to serve as analysts for up to a one year period (October 2017-October 2018) who can provide research, analytical, and managerial support for the Initiative’s activities regarding China’s domestic and international political and security affairs. Ideal candidates are graduate-level students that have considerable knowledge on China’s political system and foreign policy, excellent Chinese language research skills, and excellent writing skills. They should feel comfortable managing a team of interns and in public speaking roles. The Initiative’s work is partly conducted remotely on the Internet, but group work in Project 2049 Institute offices and other public locations will be regular. Duties are as follows: 
  • Conducting Chinese language research using openly available Internet sources, writing and analysis for articles, conference reports, grant proposals, and other such projects in accordance with the Initiative’s needs.
  • Producing presentations, projects, and reports.
  • Managing a team of volunteer research interns. 
  • Contributing to further development of the Party Watch Initiative.
  • Performing a variety of other duties.

Required Attributes:
  • Currently enrolled in or recently graduated from a master’s degree program related to China/Asian Affairs.
  • Familiarity with the mission and work of the Project 2049 Institute.
  • Eligibility to work in the United States.
  • Located in the Washington, DC area. 
  • Able to commit to 20-25 hours a week.
  • Excellent Chinese language research skills. Ability to pass timed language assessment.
  • Excellent analysis, writing, and communication skills.
  • Strong discipline to work independently/remotely.
  • Ability to complete tasks efficiently through focused and undistracted work.
  • Experience with social media is also valued. 


Contracted Analysts are compensated at the rate of $25/hour. The analyst is expected to work 20-25 hours per week. However, flexibility in accommodating the analyst’s student obligations will be maintained


Applicants will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please apply no later than August 31, 2017. Applicants must submit the following:
  1. 1-2 page resume, PDF
  2. 1 paragraph cover letter in body of email explaining why the applicant is interested.
  3. A short writing sample demonstrating Chinese language research abilities.
  4. A list of 3 references (including reference’s name, title, affiliation, email address, and phone
Please send all materials to:

David Gitter, Director, Party Watch Initiative

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2 Months in Taipei, Taiwan

Hello everyone! My name is Erin Mulhearn and I was fortunate enough to receive a grant to learn Mandarin in Taiwan this summer. Its been five weeks since I arrived in Taipei and I am absolutely loving it so far. I am studying at a small language school in the Zhongzheng district called Taiwan Mandarin Institute (TMI). The classes are very small, mine only has three including myself, so I feel like I am learning at a more intimate level. 

Before coming to Taiwan I had a very limited knowledge of the language, I only knew how to introduce myself and a few various words about food. One month into the program, I feel that my Mandarin has improved immensely. Firstly, I knew that Mandarin was a tonal language but I didn't realize the extent to which the tones matter. For example the pinyin for buy is mǎi with the third tone, however the pinyin for sell is also mài with the forth tone. Because English is not a tonal language learning the differences between the tones has been very difficult. 

Secondly, here in Taiwan the people use traditional writing instead of simplified that is used in mainland China. I already knew the writing was difficult but traditional writing is even harder than the simplified writing that I have seen before. However, this was one of the reasons why I chose to study in Taiwan over China, most of the meaning of the word is lost in the transition from traditional to simplified. For example the character for love in traditional is  with the character for heart () inside. This is much different from the simplified as the character for heart is removed an written as . In the transition from traditional to simplified the heart was removed from love which I think removes a lot of the meaning as well.

Practicing calligraphy (書法) at the school 

Being forced to actually speak the language to survive is making leaning the language even easier and its great practice. One of the things that I noticed right away is how nice the locals are here. Whenever I order food everyone asks where I am from, why I'm here in Taiwan, and if I mispronounce a tone they will correct it and have me repeat so I can learn. Taipei is a great city filled with history and culture but I've only experienced a fraction of what it has to offer so far. 

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial (中正紀念堂)
The view of Taipei 101 from Elephant Mountain (像山)
(慈祐宮) Ciyou Temple outside Raohe Night Market