African and african american studies


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Mark Melichar,

Tennessee Tech University
Joseph Early,

Loyola Marymount University

Archie Calise,

City University of New York

Eduardo Santillan,

Orange County Children’s Foundation

Sara Earley,

Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

“A Spectral Analysis of El Nino Activity in California”
On November 23, 2015, the Los Angeles Times science writers reported that one of the most powerful El Ninos on record was likely to bring heavy rains to Northern California for January through March of 2016. Also a 95% chance that El Nino would persist through the spring was predicted. This paper uses the technique of spectral analysis to investigate the history of El Nino forecasting using the Multivariate Enso Index(MEI) as the predicting variable.  

Mark E. Hall,

Bureau of Land Management
“Changepoints and Climate Change: A Re-Evaluation of Pie Creek Shelter”
Cave and rock shelters of the Great Basin provide an excellent archaeological record
of human adaptation and response to climate change. The purpose of this presentation is 
to re-evaluate the the faunal and lithic records found at the well stratified 
Pie Creek Shelter in Elko County, Nevada. Bayesian radiocarbon calibration methods, 
generally not used in Great Basin archaeology, are used to create an age-depth model for each of the stratified layers. Bayesian changepoint analyses are done to look for statistically significant changes in fauna and lithics in the stratified sequence. Given that each stratagraphic layer is dated by the age-depth model, correlations between changes in subsistence or lithic procurement and the climatic record can be examined.  Initial results indicate that the site was in use from ca. 5600 BP until the Contact period, with a potential hiatus in occupation ca. 2500 BP which coincides with a warm, dry period in the northern Great Basin. The medium game (including artiodactyls) to small game including leporids) index has a significant change at circa 3000 BP, which coincides with the Neopluvial/Neoglacial. 

Derek Kauneckis,

Ohio University
YiJyun Lin,

University of Nevada, Reno

“Climate Induced Conflict and Cooperation: Assessing the State of the Literature and Directions Forward”
As regions begin to experience what are thought to be the early impacts of climate change there is a growing literature on climate induced conflict.  While the potential for increased human conflict associated with climate change has profound implications for public policy, there has been little interaction across the two fields.  This has impacted both the public discourse around climate change, as well as research on the mechanisms that might link climate impacts to human behavior.  This presentation take a constructively critical review of the extant empirical literature, with a particular focus on how climate change is linked, or not, to current theory about the mechanisms of conflict.  Policy studies literature is drawn upon to understand what conflict reduction mechanisms may be in place that serve to buffer populations from impacts to the natural system, and how change can induce cooperation as well.  It then provides a theoretical framework of the conditions through which climate conflict might be expected to manifest itself.  Lastly, it outlines directions forward for research on the topic with specific attention on disaggregating causal mechanisms and better understanding of climate change impacts and their direct linkages to the societal processes that underlying cooperation and conflict.  

Markus Kemmelmeier,

University of Nevada, Reno
YiJyun Lin,

University of Nevada, Reno

“Climate Change’s Effect on Crime”
There is compelling evidence that heat precipitates greater violence and aggression. Many studies have documented that higher ambient temperatures are associated with increasing levels of violent crime. But whereas increasing annual temperatures in the U.S. lead to the expectation of growing levels of crime, rates of violent crime have declined precipitously over time. The present research seeks to mitigate this apparent contradiction by exploring the social conditions under which climatic anomalies are associated with the prevalence of criminal activity in the United States. The most comprehensive study to date by Ranson (2014, J of Envir. Econ. & Manag.) shows that warmer weather will trigger more violent crimes. Yet, by excluding key variables, Ranson may not have accounted for known predictors for crime, including critical cultural. In addition, Ranson’s conclusions are based on fixed-effect estimation, which are of little use in explaining longitudinal changes and cross-regional variability in crime, nor do they account for dependencies due to spatial proximity and shared political structures. Our research uses data from more than 3000 U.S. counties which reported 6 different crimes for each of 12 months for a period of 30 years, and makes use of mixed-effects and spatial models. By assuming that the social effects of climate change are contingent on social, economic, political, cultural and climatic conditions, our work documents how the interaction between climatic and non-climatic conditions shapes how changes in crime unfold over time and space.

Daniel D. Kuester,

Kansas State University
“Studying the Importance of Student Involvement in Large Lecture Courses: Do Engaged Students Perform Better?”
It is a challenge for most instructors to engage students on an individual level in a large lecture course with 200 or more students. I have added to my use of social media and polling software in my Principles of Macroeconomics courses in an attempt to create an interactive environment in a traditional sense with some of my students.  Each week, ten students are selected at random and asked to sit in the front of the lecture where they are called upon more frequently than other students and answer some questions about the class. At the end of the week the students in the focus group are surveyed and asked if they liked being in the group. This paper studies how these students perform on examinations relative to the control group and their impressions of being selected for this group.

YiJyun Lin,

University of Nevada, Reno
“Diseases, Crops, Institutions, and Culture: How Climate Variability Influences the Likelihood of Conflict”
Does climate variability indirectly affect the likelihood of social conflict via ecological conditions influencing diseases and crops? Does the strength of this relationship change as a function of the interaction between a country’s environmental conditions and institutional arrangements? Does the institutional arrangement further shape political culture in a way that increases the likelihood of social conflict? This topic is situated in the growing literature on the climate-conflict linkage, which has arrived at contradictory conclusions concerning these issues. Part of the problem is the insufficient modeling of the spatiotemporal effects of climate on conflict. The present study tests the joint effects of climate, geographic conditions, institutions, and culture on the likelihood of social conflict. My research uses a global data set combining country-level aggregate data with high-resolution gridded data on local climatic and geographic conditions. An instrumental variable (IV) approach is used to account for the problem of simultaneity between institutional arrangements and social conflict. Then, a three-level mixed-effect logit model is employed to examine the connection between climate and likelihood of social conflict.

Peter J. Longo,

University of Nebraska Kearney
“Federalism and the Flow of Water for an Arid West: Cases and Cooperative Models”
The Ogallala Aquifer covers an expansive and sparsely populated Great Plains. The arid West stressed by climate change, drought, and increasing population would appreciate access to water from the Ogallala Aquifer and other water sources on the Great Plains. While each state might view water in possessive terms, the workings of federalism suggest a different construct. Indeed, federalism potentially places water into a stream of commerce, thereby reducing parochial claims. In this paper, the water resources of the Great Plains will be assessed with the demands from the arid West; major Supreme Court water cases will be analyzed for potential allocation schemes; and models of cooperation will be offered to mitigate the potentially harsh dictates of federalism.

Mark Melichar,

Tennessee Tech University
“Do Droughts Stunt Economic Growth? Evidence from Arid States”
Water is essential for life. However, is water essential for economic activity? This question is explored by using the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and the Coincident Economic Activity Index for arid states from October 1979 to October 2015. In addition, the effects of drought on economic activity in California is also examined even though the state is not classified as arid. The analysis is conducted using vector autoregression (VAR) and impulse response functions (IRF).

Nicholas Seltzer,

University of Nevada, Reno
“An Evolutionary Selection Model of Climate Change and Pastoralist Conflict in East Africa”
This multi-agent simulation tests an individual-level, evolutionary model of intergroup conflict. Design elements are abstracted from the arid and semi-arid regions of east Africa with potential implications for climate-change induced conflict. Agents were more likely to cooperate when resources were found in dense clusters, rather than widely dispersed. Conflict was more likely when inequities in land quality existed. These effects were further enhanced when agents possessed the ability to tactically coordinate their individual efforts, though in some cases dominant groups could prolong both peace and exclusive access to the best land through a primitive form of strategic deterrence. These results affirm the hypothesis that in-group cooperation and intergroup competition in humans are integrally related. Further, the degree to which they are related appeared to be dynamically responsive to environmental conditions. If true, this conclusion suggests environmental change this century could increase the risk of intergroup of conflict.

Karen Simpson,

University of Nevada, Reno
Derek Kauneckis,

Ohio University

Azamat Tashev,

Ohio University

Loretta Singletary,

University of Nevada, Reno

“Exploring the Role of Local Governance System in Mitigating Climate Stress in the Truckee/Carson River Systems”
Multiple regions across are experiencing shifts in vegetation season, precipitation patterns, hydrological variability, and frequent occurrence of weather extremes.  Expectation are that they will intensify due to global climate change. The negative effects of these climate induced fluctuations in local natural-climatic conditions are referred to as a climate stress.  One potential aspect of climate stress is increase conflict over the allocation of increasingly scarce water resources. In this context, the impact of institutions and the interaction among organizations tasked with water resource management are key to understanding the environment in which conflict occurs, and how it might be reduced. This paper will present an analysis of the impact of variation in governance arrangements on local conflict-reduction and cooperation in response to climate stress on water resources. The analysis will focus primarily on the Truckee-Carson River System (TCRS), in Northern Nevada, using data derived from extensive fieldwork with local stakeholders and water managers. The high degree of climate vulnerability in this area, combined with diversity of local water uses, communities, and water management organizations, creates an ideal environment for the examination of how institutional environment impacts climate-driven conflict, the role of various forms of interaction, and methods for stimulating social learning in complex systems. In turn, variations in level and type of local governance between the Truckee and Carson Rivers allow for a useful comparison between the two systems to highlight the costs and benefits of differing levels of local control on conflict-reduction and cooperation in response to climate stress.


Meghna Sabharwal,

University of Texas – Dallas


Martha Patricia Barraza De Anda,

Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez

Adriana Dorfman,

Universidade Federal de Ciências da Saúde de Porto Alegre
“Marginal, Situated and Emergent: Border Studies in Brazil”
This paper resorts to quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze researchers and researches dealing with contemporary (since the 1990’s) border studies in Brazil. The information was collected while building the database “Unbral Fronteiras - Open Access Portal of the Brazilian Universities on Borders and Limits”. In the process, border researchers were listed and answered a questionnaire. Through these, we drew the spatial distribution of scholars and studies (in Southern in Central borders, mostly) and identified the main topics (integration; cross-border culture; infrastructure and its limits; fronts) and emerging themes (non-state and non-administrative borders). We conclude that there is no consensual methodology or theory. Still, this is a growing field of research, with a defined community and a solid understanding of its object (the international borders). There are paradigmatic concepts (border, limit, twin-city) and regionalization (border strip, 3 arches, dyads). We conclude that, in Brazil, border studies are a marginal field of research, much like its object. In addition, we found a strong link between researches and public policies aimed at borderlands, more frequently as comments than as formulation. Finally, we conclude that border scholars tend to be politically engaged with the object, which is expressed in situated research.

Agustín Sandez Perez,

Universidad Autónoma de Baja California
“Around the level of economic activity in the State of Baja California. Current situation”/”En torno al nivel de la actividad económica en el estado de Baja California. Coyuntura actual”.
Regional productive activities are facing an uncertain phase with an insufficient level of recovery due to the difficult circumstances brought about by the global crisis of the last decade. During this crisis, a considerable contraction surged in regard to the employment and the performance of the economic income derived by the main industries generating foreign currency and surplus for the regional economy. The levels of production in Baja California have been characterized by its high sensitivity associated to changes in variables from external sectors. Currency exchange rates, foreign investment, imports and exports, foreign remittances, as wells as the displacement of the cross-border population, have been high influence factors in the behavior of regional macroeconomics. The taxing impact derived by the increase of the sales tax has had visible effect on the economic activity, which has been gradual but cumulative in the course of the following months.

Akihiro Iwashita,

Hokkaido University
“Featuring a Functional Tool as a Compass for Comparative Border Studies: From the Experiences of Asian and Eurasian Cases”
Asian border seas recently have attracted a lot of attention following a series of maritime conflicts over the East China Sea, the Sea of Japan, and the Sea of Okhotsk while Eurasian cases have shed light on continental border confrontation and cooperation. The author identifies three functional tools for comparative studies of borders. First, the concept of a timeline relates closely to the four-stage border transformation as proposed by Oscar Martinez: fortress, coexistence, interdependence and integration. The realities on the space over Europe and Russia mixed the four-stage phenomena in various ways in successive timelines. Factually, the Crimean case is a good example of an “interdependence” suddenly turning into a “fortress.” The author conceptualizes these examples as a timeline setting and could be compared with many border phenomena in a similar framework. The second concept is border permeability, namely, a filtering function of a border (for example, compare the US-Mexico, the Finish-Russian, the India-Pakistan, the Pakistan-Afghan borders and so on), and the third concept of the construction degrees on disputed territory (for example, compare the level of social construction among the Northern Territories/Southern Kurils, Takeshima/Dokdo and Senkaku/Diaoyu) could also provide a new horizon for comparative studies.

Alejandro Iván Bustos Cortés,

Universidad de Antofagasta (Chile)
“Inmigración latinoamericana en el Norte de Chile”
A partir de los datos que arroja esta investigación se puede desprender que los inmigrantes latinoamericanos, que forman parte de flujos migratorios intensos en Sudamérica, enfrentan una difícil situación social, propia de aquellas personas que deciden emigrar de sus países de origen hacia Chile el cual, no obstante ser un país de extensas fronteras, presenta distintas características como sociedad que dificulta el proceso de inclusión de los inmigrantes en los ámbitos como: su inserción laboral, la educación de los hijos, la seguridad social, el sistema de salud, entre otros. Los inmigrantes representan alrededor de un 2 % de la población del país, pero en las regiones del Norte de Chile que limita con tres países fronterizos (Argentina, Bolivia y Perú), su incidencia y visibilización es mayor que en otras zonas de Chile. Los temas que son abordados en la investigación incluye una caracterización de la inmigración latinoamericana: según sexo, edad; distribución de la residencia; condicionantes laborales, de salud, educación y socioeconómicas, así como una identificación de factores de exclusión o integración de los inmigrantes. Finalmente, se abordan antecedentes de discusión sobre recientes propuestas de política inmigratoria en Chile.

Alex H. Chung,

University of Sydney
“Sovereignty’s Silent New Challenger: Questioning the Legitimacy of Drone Warfare”
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, since President Barack Obama took office in July 2009, there have been a total of 370 drone strikes with a casualty rate of 2,066-3,394, whereby as many as 633 could be children. This paper aims to address how the increasingly common (and seemingly normalised) military use of UAVs is affecting notions of sovereignty, democratic legitimacy, and global liberal norms. It seeks to engage in discourses surrounding the post-national and narratives of democratic legitimacy within the domestic context of the United States and also on the international stage. The intersection of drones with international human rights and humanitarian norms are of particular concern, in addition to exploring how drone warfare and its supporters will contest for legitimacy among the backdrop of liberal states and stakeholders. Ultimately, this paper seeks to answer the question of how has the perceived normalisation of drone warfare challenged the legitimacy of democratic sovereignty and liberal norms within the liberal world order?

Alex H. Chung,

University of Sydney
“Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State: Striving for a Post-Secular Middling”
The basis of rights-based liberal societies in the Global North is individual spiritual autonomy. As described by Diana Eck, pluralism is the engagement that creates a common (liberal) society from plurality. John Rees presents a theistic-secular middling on claims to legitimacy and the national ‘centre’, where religious institutions are subordinated by certain state (and interstate) norms inherent in the social contract (i.e. basic human rights necessary for the function of a liberal democracy), while providing for the free exercise (i.e. negative right) and freedom from state intervention of the manifestation of religious customs and identities.

In light of the recent Australian controversies, tensions and conflation of Islamic identities with the emergence and security response to the Islamic State (IS), this paper seeks to engage discourses of liberal secularism, pluralism, and postsecular logics. Throughout the paper, the story of mentally ill individual is recounted to demonstrate instances of state-perpetuated suppression of personhood. Responding to and using Connolly and Rees’ postsecular and liberal pluralistic narratives, this paper examines marriage equality and the state of LGBTQ equality in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Alex Steenstra,

Northern Arizona University

Rakesh Pangasa,

Northern Arizona University

“The NAU Yuma Business Innovation Accelerator - Challenges and Opportunities in the Lower Colorado River Region”
This paper examines the challenges and opportunities for workforce development, entrepreneurship, economic development in the lower Colorado River region. The binational agreements between Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico and the Imperial Valley, California, USA and between San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico and Yuma County, Arizona will be examined. In addition, the opportunities and challenges of existing and potential business incubators in the region will be analyzed. A proposal for a regional international incubator will be reviewed.

Alibay Mammadov,

Hokkaido University
“Understanding IDPs and Intellectuals of Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue”
Research conducted in the past on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is an ethnic conflict between the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan did not take into consideration enough the views of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Based on this shortcoming, my research aimed to fill this gap by gathering data from IDPs of Azerbaijan. Data was collected in September 2015 mainly through public surveys from 200 IDPs, and some intellectuals and politicians of Azerbaijan. The results showed that the majority of IDPs (65%) prefer peace, but there are some intellectuals noticed that there is only one way to solve this problem. That is war. Most of them (intellectuals) denied the cultural exchanges by saying that “it will make us forget the problem and as the result of this Armenia will get our territory”. 87% of IDPs answered that “first of all, Armenia’s soldiers has to leave Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas”. These findings indicate that at the present time there is no way to solve this problem by peace. It can be concluded that people want peace, but they do not believe in peace.

Ana Rodriguez Camargo,

University of Texas at El Paso
“Border Economy Case: Small Business Access to Capital in El Paso”
This paper examines small businesses’ access to capital from commercial banks and other state and federal sponsors in the border region of El Paso. Based on previous research (Schauer 2001, 2002), finding that access to capital tends to be low in metropolitan areas with relatively low population, such as El Paso border region, and conducting a series of interviews with key stakeholders from financial institutions in the border region, we identify some of the opportunities and challenges faced by small businesses seeking to bolster their economic growth. The application of an econometric model allows us to determine different factors that may affect the deposit-loan relationship during the 2005 – 2015 time frame. Our findings provide the necessary evidence base for a series of policy recommendations designed to improve economic governance in the border region of El Paso.

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