kelcover.jpg

I am an assistant professor of Asian Studies and Government at Georgetown University. My area of specialization is comparative politics and the political economy of China and East Asia.


My first book, Mobilizing for Development: The Modernization of Rural East Asia, was published in 2020 with Cornell University Press. 

It tackles the question of how countries achieve rural development and offers a new way of thinking about East Asia's political economy that challenges the developmental state paradigm. Through a comparison of Taiwan (1950s–1970s), South Korea (1950s–1970s), and China (1980s–2000s), I show that different types of development outcomes—improvements in agricultural production, rural living standards, and the village environment—were realized to different degrees, at different times, and in different ways. 

 

I argue that rural modernization campaigns, defined as policies demanding high levels of mobilization to effect dramatic change, played a central role in the region and that divergent development outcomes can be attributed to the interplay between campaigns and institutions. The analysis departs from common portrayals of the developmental state as wholly technocratic and demonstrates that rural development was not just a byproduct of industrialization. 

 

The research is based on several years of fieldwork in Asia and makes a unique contribution by systematically comparing China's development experience with other countries. Relevant to political science, economic history, rural sociology, and Asian Studies, the book enriches our understanding of state-led development and agrarian change.

Reviews of my book have been published in Asia Policy (book review roundtable), The China Quarterly, The Developing Economies, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Chinese Political Science, and Perspectives on Politics. It has also been mentioned in stories by Axios and SupChina.