As Western democracies debate social media regulation, Jonathan Corpus Ong outlines the valuable lessons they can draw from Southeast Asian…
As part of the annual “Democratic Erosion” undergraduate series, Jamie Horowitz examines the potential effects of disinformation in Colombia—in particular, disinformation campaigns related to the country’s 2016 peace deal referendum and the 2018 Colombian presidential election. Horowitz finds that well-known politicians are primarily responsible for disseminating disinformation in Colombia, which then circulates unbridled on WhatsApp. Disinformation campaigns, she argues, serve to polarize the population, which, in turn, leads to democratic erosion that manifests in low trust in electoral procedures and government.
Alexis Rider’s contribution to the “Ways of Water” series argues for the utility of imaging ice as a rock, and not just frozen water. From glaciers to icebergs to the way layers of ice sheets have shaped landscapes (including New York City), the study of ice—as both a force and as a preserver of the past—opens temporal windows on long-term changes in both geology and society. Rider takes us from early expeditions of Antarctica to the present, in which “rocky ice” is “an interlocutor for the climate crisis.”
Hate speech does not operate in a vacuum, and its rise reflects changing political contexts. If we’re serious about fighting hate speech and its violent and destabilizing consequences, we need to identify its earliest manifestations. Babak Bahador offers a hate-speech intensity scale, a strategy that allows us to move beyond the binary approach that dominates current hate speech research. This concept can be operationalized to better identify and understand the evolutions of hate speech before it leads to real-world harms.
As part of the annual “Democratic Erosion” student series, Edcel John Ibarra examines the deterioration of the judicial independence of the Philippine Supreme Court in recent history, especially under Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency. Pointing to the relationship between judicial independence and democratic consolidation, he argues that the Philippine judiciary has historically been a crucial bulwark against democratic erosion. However, presidential and congressional efforts to reshape the Supreme Court in recent years have undermined its independence, and so the country may have to rely on other safeguards.
In this contribution to the “Ways of Water” series, Debjani Bhattacharyya examines how the tides of the Hooghly River in Kolkata have been visually represented historically. In doing so, she makes a larger point about how cartographic images of the intermingling of rivers and cities fix this relationship in time and space. Bhattacharyya contrasts representations of the Hooghly in maps with those in almanacs, which capture both the temporal and cosmological meanings and practices as experienced by Kolkata’s residents under colonial rule.
While many analyses have focused on the human-level health and economic impacts on essential workers themselves, Andrew Lakoff examines how the emergence of structural policies to “secure the supply chain” in times of disaster and public health crises created new categories of workers, and therefore of risk. In spite of the sense of urgency that emerged in the 2000s around the need to prepare for a global pandemic, the resulting guidance put forward in response to Covid-19 allowed for the social classification of essential workers to be subject to significant industry lobbying, with little regard to health and safety protections for those workers.
Ahead of the 2004 presidential election, the SSRC convened the National Research Commission on Elections and Voting after being approached by social scientists and election observers concerned about the lack of a resource for nonpartisan scholarship on electoral process controversies in the United States. The Commission published its final report in March 2005 highlighting ten key topics in need of continuing social science research, many of which remain relevant in 2020.
Christy Spackman’s contribution to the “Ways of Water” series tells the story of a chemical leak into Charleston, West Virginia’s water supply. While municipal authorities instructed residents on how to remove the chemical from their homes, and found no trace of it afterwards, many (but not all) residents identified a strong smell, with some taking ill. Spackman argues that the scientific mode of treating the problem without considering residents' embodied and affective experiences enhanced rather than ameliorated its impact.
Immigrant Communities in the Covid-19 Pandemic: Old and New Insights on Mobility, Bordering Regimes, and Social Inequalityby Heide Castañeda and William D. Lopez
Heide Castañeda and William D. Lopez explore historical connections and future impacts of the pandemic on border management and human mobility. Focusing on immigrants in the United States, the authors show how in addition to limitations on their movements, punitive policies enacted in the past year have further reduced healthcare access for undocumented migrants and their mixed-status families, while pandemic-fueled anti-immigrant discourse has further marginalized these groups.