Abigail Coplin’s research is situated in political sociology, economic sociology, and science and technology studies. It examines the entanglement—and coproduction of—science, politics, and nationalism in contemporary China, and exposes mechanisms by which non-democratic states contend with experts and incorporate expertise into their governance schemes and legitimacy claims. Her various projects demonstrate that while the Chinese Communist Party-state (CCP) seeks to harness science and technology as a legitimizing ideology and economic driver, semi-incorporating them within the state also gives rise to new, often unintended, dynamics that the party-state must address.
Abigail’s book project, “Domesticating Biotechnological Innovation: Science, Market, and the State in Post-Socialist China,” demonstrates how these interactional dynamics and legitimacy struggles drive China’s distinctive trajectory of knowledge-economy development. Specifically, she analyzes China’s agrobiotechnology sector, an industry that is both deeply significant, economically and politically, to the Chinese party-state and highly contentious in Chinese society. Drawing on extensive mixed method qualitative fieldwork, Abigail shows how China’s efforts to “domesticate” GM-technology center on deploying nationalist ideologies to reframe social anxieties around the technology as a struggle between China and foreign interests. This nationalist frame functions as the crucial logic organizing relations among science, state, and market, and thus sets China on a path of knowledge-economy development divergent from advanced, liberal democracies. Moreover, this institution-building principle structures each tier of China’s agrobiotech project: the nationalist dynamics of the sector; the emergence of unique commercial/academic organizational forms; the career trajectories of actors in the industry; the type of technology developed; and even the contours of social criticism leveled against this technology.
In addition to working on her book project, Abigail also taught “State-Society Relations in Post-Socialist China” in spring 2018. In her minimal free time, Abigail is an avid sailor and aspiring molecular gastronomist.
Leland Rogers has degrees in Central Eurasian Studies and Anthropology, and specializes in ancient DNA and population genetics. His doctoral dissertation explored the matrilineal lineages of the populations of the central Mongol Steppe from the late Neolithic to the present, being particularly interested in uncovering genetic affinities of the central Mongol Steppe population through time to ancient and modern populations of Eurasia. Analysis was carried out through a multidisciplinary approach, including archaeology, history, linguistics, and cultural studies, to place biological population change within a cultural context. His research also assists in the establishment of a broader database of ancient DNA data for comparative purposes in future ancient population studies of Eurasian and “New World” populations.
During his time as a postdoctoral associate at the Council on East Asian Studies at the MacMillan Center, Leland worked on turning the data from his dissertation into articles to be published in major peer reviewed journals, and publishing several other articles in Mongolian Studies and archaeology. Also, he worked with the animal ancient DNA laboratory at Yale for subspecies identification for animal samples retrieved from archaeological sites in Mongolia and Museum specimen apes. In spring 2018, he taught the course “Biological, Archaeological, and Historical Perspectives of Early East Asia.”
Holly Stephens received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017. As a historian of Korea, her research interests range widely to include economic history, agriculture, empire, everyday life, village organizations, and the emergence of the modern state. Her dissertation—Agriculture and Development in an Age of Empire: Institutions, Associations, and Market Networks in Korea, 1876-1945—examines the Korean rural economy during a period of immense political upheaval. Using previously unexamined farmers’ diaries, the dissertation traces the formation and operation of new agricultural organizations that linked Korean farmers to regional and global markets, as new ideas about the state’s role in the economy and the adoption of scientific farming methods combined to transform agricultural production.
While at Yale, Holly prepared her dissertation for publication. She also taught a class in spring 2018 on economic change and everyday life in modern Korea.
Dominik Wallner has degrees Japanese Studies and Classical Indology. In his dissertation, The oral epic tradition of the Ainu: Heroic Epics (yukar) and God Songs (kamuy yukar), he describes two major genres of the oral literature of the Ainu in Japan, which share many characteristic features, e.g. a metric language, a particular “literary” style, special personal verb forms for the first person, or the usage of oral epic formulas and themes. Main factors of the discussion are the contents and topics of the stories presented by the two genre-specific formats, the main protagonists and distinguishing characteristics. Additionally, a focus lies on the spatial configurations established in the two genres. Dominik Wallner has studied a broad range of languages from Japanese and Ainu to Sanskrit, Ancient Tamil and different Native languages in North America. Beneath his interest in Japanese literature of the Edo and Meiji periods and in Ainu language and literature, he is also interested in Indigenous languages and literature in general and the preservation and revitalization of endangered languages.
In Fall 2017, he taught the seminar “The History and Literature of the Ainu.”