Matrix News

Matrix/Sciences Po Collaboration Grants Announced

Four teams of scholars from the U.S. and France will use seed funding to tackle globally significant, cross-disciplinary research questions in the social sciences.


UC Berkeley’s Social Science Matrix and Sciences Po, a premier university based in Paris, France, are pleased to announce the recipients of an inaugural set of grants designed to encourage collaboration between scholars from the two institutions. Through the Matrix-Sciences Po Collaboration Grants program, each institution has committed to provide a pool of funding to enable graduate students and faculty members to work together on a cross-institutional basis.

Sciences Po and UC Berkeley are two of the world’s leading centers of research in the social sciences; both are home to renowned experts in public health, urban development, security, environmental policy, and other pressing 21st-century issues. Four teams of scholars were selected to receive grants following evaluation by faculty review boards from the two partner institutions. Projects were selected in part for their potential to lead to ongoing partnerships; contribute to their home departments, schools, or programs; and create opportunities for graduate students to participate. In addition to funding, Matrix and Sciences Po will each provide meeting and work space for successful applicants, as well as administrative support and other services.

Below are summaries of the projects that will be funded through the inaugural Matrix/Sciences Po Collaboration Grants:

The Hissène Habré Trial: A New Model for Prosecuting International Crimes in National Courts?

In this cross-disciplinary collaboration, researchers from UC Berkeley and Sciences Po will examine the role of national courts in providing accountability for international crimes in Africa. Their research is focused on the trial of Chad’s former president, Hissène Habré, who was convicted of crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes before the Extraordinary African Chambers, a novel judicial mechanism born out of an agreement between Chad, Senegal, and the African Union.

The team’s members will use their grant to work on a book that is scheduled to be published by Oxford University Press in early 2019. The book will present the history and significance of the Habré case, highlight direct actors’ perspectives and practical experiences of the trial, and offer academic analysis of the trial in the broader context of international criminal law generally.

“As researchers, we were interested in how this trial actually happened and what aspects, if any, are replicable,” the scholars wrote in their proposal. “In early 2017, we interviewed the trial’s direct actors—mostly Senegalese and Chadian lawyers, judges, journalists, funders, and civil society actors who operationalized the trial. In doing so, we documented the practical and political realities affecting their day to day work. Now, with an invitation from Oxford University Press to produce an edited volume of direct actors’ perspectives and broader academic analysis, we will make a significant contribution to understanding of not only this trial but also potential models for the domestic prosecution of international crimes in Africa and beyond.”

Participating scholars from UC Berkeley include Eric Stover, Adjunct Professor in Law and Public Health and Faculty Director of the Human Rights Center; and Kim Thuy Seelinger, Lecturer in Law and Director of the Sexual Violence Program at the Human Rights Center. Collaborators from Sciences Po include Horatia Muir Watt, Professor and Co-Director of the Global Governance Studies Program; Jeremy Perelman, Assistant Professor at the Sciences Po Law School; and Dr. Sharon Weill, Senior Lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) and Associate Researcher at Sciences Po’s Centre de Recherches Internationales (CERI).

The Social Life of the Sediment Balance: A Social and Geomorphic Approach to the Transformation of River Systems and Deltas

This collaborative project will explore the social and natural processes that lead to the modification of sediment balance in rivers. Interdisciplinary scholarship on river systems and society is usually concerned with water flows, but rarely with sediment balance. Sediments, however, are essential components of river systems. Hydroelectric dams, canals, navigation, sand and gravel mining, and other human uses alter sediment fluxes, often with detrimental consequences on the river morphology and ecology as well as on coastal land.

The project will bring together two scholars with different perspectives on this topic: Giacomo Parrinello, Assistant Professor of Environmental History at the Centre for History at Sciences Po (CHSP), brings a social science and history background, while G. Mathias Kondolf, Professor of Environmental Planning and Geography in UC Berkeley’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, is an expert in the geomorphology of river systems. The collaborators, who reached out to each other for the first time as a result of this grant program, will explore how the dynamics of the river systems are shaped by policy, institutional, and legal frameworks. They will focus their research on diverse river basins, such as the Rhône, the Po, the Mekong, the Mississippi-Missouri system, the Colorado, and the Sacramento.

“The collaborating faculty have both developed an interest in the intersection of sociotechnical and geomorphological processes in river systems, and aim to combine their expertise to shed new light on a key aspect of human-environment interaction in fluvial environments,” the scholars explained in their proposal. “By systematically compiling geomorphic data on these river systems, their historical transformations, and resulting channel responses, with a social-science-based analysis of the governance context, we hope to push forward interdisciplinary efforts to better understand these transformed river systems and how they can be best managed.”

Diasporic Identities: Southeast Asian Incorporation Experiences in Europe and America—The Post-Refugee Generations

In the four decades since the initial mass resettlement of refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, the Southeast Asian communities in Europe and the U.S. have registered a significant demographic shift. Yet surprisingly little scholarly attention has been paid to these communities. A team of researchers from UC Berkeley and Sciences Po will use a Collaboration Grant to convene European and American researchers working on Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian diasporas to engage in critical, cross-disciplinary discourse on the post-refugee generations.

“Despite the resurgent attention to immigration issues in Europe in recent years, we know little of the integration experiences of these earlier but relatively recent refugee communities in Europe,” the researchers explained in their proposal. “In particular, we have virtually no knowledge of the post-refugee generations that are an integral part of the French cultural, political, economic, and social fabric. These knowledge gaps deprive us of critical insights that would be relevant and invaluable in view of the current refugee situations in Europe, and the intensifying debates engendered by demographic and cultural shifts both in the U.S. and in France….”

Leading the collaboration are Khatharya Um, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, and Hélène Le Bail, a political scientist on the permanent faculty at Sciences Po and a research fellow at the Centre de Recherches Internationales (CERI). Um is currently working on a book project on Southeast Asian diaspora; she has completed her research on the communities in the U.S. and is deepening her research on the communities in France. Le Bail’s previous scholarly focus on Chinese migration has evolved into her current research interest in second-generation Sino-Vietnamese populations in France.

“We envision this initiative as paving the way for more extensive exchange and research collaboration not only between Berkeley and Sciences Po but also with other universities in France and Europe, and generation of new scholarship and publications, including a co-edited volume,” the scholars explained. “Ultimately, we hope to foster a robust transcontinental community of scholars, researchers, artists, and advocates working on critical Southeast Asian diaspora studies, a space that is emerging in the U.S. but currently does not exist in Europe. With its attention to transnational and diasporic concerns, this future transnational community would provide a much needed home for new innovative scholarship that is not focused singularly on Southeast Asia, and that brings critical approaches and inquiries to both area studies, and to diaspora, transnational, and community studies.”

Political Representation in India: The Berkeley-Sciences Po Indian Legislators Project

This project aims to understand the profiles of national and state legislators and the changing nature of political representation in India. The collaboration will bring together scholars from UC Berkeley and Sciences Po who have each developed unique research approaches to understanding Indian politics, and will integrate previous major data collection efforts related to politicians in India.

“We see this grant as an opportunity to bring together our shared interests to maximize the synergies and quality of our research output,” the researchers wrote in their proposal, “and to initiate what may be a broader and longer term research partnership focused on the political behavior of India’s state and national legislators.”

Based at Sciences Po, Christophe Jaffrelot, a Senior Research Fellow at Centre de Recherches Internationales, is building a major database on the sociological profile of Indian national and state legislators, including information on caste, class, gender, and family backgrounds. These data are critical for assessing trends in the democratization of political and descriptive representation in India and also allow assessment of legislators’ political trajectories, for instance, the extent to which they shift from one party to another or belong to dynastic political families.

From UC Berkeley, Jennifer Bussell, Gruber Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Goldman School of Public Policy, focuses her research on political representation, service delivery, and the political economy of corruption in India; she recently completed a book manuscript on the constituency service provided by state and national legislators in that country. Bussell has used data collected by Jaffrelot and collaborators to assess the relationship between caste background and political responsiveness.

Adding to the collaboration, Thad Dunning, Robson Professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley and Director of the Center on the Politics of Development, is a scholar of comparative politics with an emphasis on distributive politics, ethnic politics, and political economy. He research focuses on the distributional impact of political reservations (electoral quotas for marginalized castes) in village councils in India, and provides an important foundation for understanding the relationships between local brokers and the higher-level legislators studied by Bussell and Jaffrelot.

“We envision that our collaboration will integrate our previous research in novel ways,” the researchers explained. “Overall, our goal is to combine our previous separate efforts in a productive manner to produce a more comprehensive understanding of the ways in which social background does, and does not, affect the manner by which Indian politicians engage with their constituents and serve as effective representatives. More generally, we expect that this may serve as a starting point for a broader research agenda on the political behavior of India’s legislators, writ large.”

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