Welcome to my site! I hold a B.S. from Georgetown University, an M.S. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and am currently a doctoral candidate in Cornell University's Department of Government. Taking China as a case study, my research focuses on how authoritarian governments post-digital revolution strike the balance between information openness vs. repression. More specifically, I argue that total censorship is not optimal for China's leaders. Rather, they occasionally relax control over online incidents, with temporarily more open discussion serving to convince Internet users that the Communist Party "gets" the seriousness with which citizens demand reform in key areas: air pollution, nationalist fervor, and corruption.
My work combines quantitative analysis of social media posts with interviews over several months in China with the actors shaping China's Internet industry, to understand both what is censored online and when, and how censorship works (e.g. understanding the elaborate bureaucratic apparatus that maintains tight control over the Internet companies).
This research has broad implications for explaining how the social media revolution may have led to the downfall of some regimes (Arab Spring) while reinforcing others (China, Russia and Iran). Specifically, it suggests that savvy regimes may use censorship programs not merely to thwart threatening information flows, but using netizens' own voices to persuade the public of leaders' ability and willingness to solve pressing issues.
Dissertation draft (updated 3.19.17)