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  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: In its sixty-five-year history, the Journal of International Affairs has explored some of the most important transformations of the postwar world: from the U.S. occupation of Germany and Japan to the collapse of the Soviet Union, from democratization and development to the explosion of global trade. The unprecedented—and accelerating—growth of cities today will prove to be no less important. Mass urbanization will have a transformative effect on the political, economic and social fabrics of societies around the world. The demographic shift from rural to urban areas promises to release untapped human potential—creative and productive energies that will emerge from the increased exchange of ideas and capital.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Germany
  • Author: Sean Turnell
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Myanmar has been under military rule in various guises for nearly fifty years. The most durable and unyielding of the authoritarian regimes in Southeast Asia, Myanmar's military rulers have expertly exploited circumstances and methods that prolong their rule, even as they have failed to deliver genuine economic growth and development. Their methods include ruthlessly suppressing dissent, inciting ethnic divisions and fears of external threats and making implicit bargains with neighboring states and domestic elites over the spoils available to a rentier state. Myanmar's emergence in recent years as a significant regional supplier of natural gas has dramatically increased the country's distributable economic rents, thus exacerbating the country's political stasis. This article examines the ways in which Myanmar's military regime has maintained its rule through the exploitation of these methods, but with a particular focus on the impacts of the country's exploitable energy and resource wealth and its implications for Myanmar's economic development and political transition.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Samantha Libby
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Vietnam now participates in a capitalist market and keeps its borders open, but it still imposes a dated yet effective communist matrix of control over the country's media outlets. This article examines the effectiveness of this system of control with respect to visual art. I find that contemporary art in particular is able to communicate—and express frustrations with—the tensions between rapid economic development and political stagnation, and between cultural traditionalism and modernization. Art can speak with relative impunity because its meaning is more difficult to pinpoint than written criticism of the regime. However, it is important to note that few, if any, Vietnamese artists advocate a change of regime. Instead, they emphasize their concerns about tensions in society caused by rapid development and its effect on centuries-old traditions. The current one-party regime certainly contributes to this tension, but it would be an oversimplification to call these artists “protest artists”; rather, they act as a lens through which both Vietnamese citizens and outsiders get an honest and unbiased view of a country that is too often thought of in terms of colonialism or war.
  • Topic: Development, War
  • Political Geography: Vietnam
  • Author: Mark Warschauer, Morgan Ames
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program is one of the most ambitious educational reform initiatives the world has ever seen. The program has developed a radically new low-cost laptop computer and aggressively promoted its plans to put the computer in the hands of hundreds of millions of children around the world, including in the most impoverished nations. Though fewer than two million of the OLPC's XO computers have been distributed as of this writing, the initiative has caught the attention of world leaders, influenced developments in the global computer industry and sparked controversy and debate about the best way to improve the lot of the world's poor. With six years having passed since Nicholas Negroponte first unveiled the idea, this paper appraises the program's progress and impact and, in so doing, takes a fresh look at OLPC's assumptions. The paper reviews the theoretical underpinnings of OLPC, analyzes the program's development and summarizes the current state of OLPC deployments around the world. The analysis reveals that provision of individual laptops is a utopian vision for the children in the poorest countries, whose educational and social futures could be more effectively improved if the same investments were instead made on more proven and sustainable interventions. Middle- and high-income countries may have a stronger rationale for providing individual laptops to children, but will still want to eschew OLPC's technocentric vision. In summary, OLPC represents the latest in a long line of technologically utopian development schemes that have unsuccessfully attempted to solve complex social problems with overly simplistic solutions.
  • Topic: Development, Education