Friday, June 17, 2016

Events at the Kennan Institute

My eight week summer residence at the Kennan Institute is flying by so fast. I am about halfway done with my fellowship and it has been a busy summer thus far. In addition to doing my own research and writing my book manuscript, I am working with a research assistant who is helping me with data collection, and I attend lots and lots of events! After living in Atlanta for two years where East European events were few and far between (I even started a lecture series at Clayton State because there were so few events on my region) it has been nice to have so many different types of events to choose from. Every week there is at least one event of interest to me if not more! The funny thing is people say that the summer is the light time of year for events but I have even had to start picking and choosing what to go to in order to balance my writing time with events. Here are some of the events I have attended at Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center. 

The first talk I attended on my first day at the Kennan Institute was entitled "Belarus in Transition"
with Larissa G. Titarenko Professor, Belarus State University; Former Fellow, Wilson Center and Valery Yevarouski Fulbright Research Scholar, Kennan Institute; Head, The Centre for the Historiophilosophical and Comparative Researches, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Belarus. Most of the talk focused more on the historical angle of the Belarus rather than possibilities for a transition to democracy. But Titarenko also spoke of the role that Belarus has played as a mediator in the negotiations in the Minsk protocol between Ukraine and Russia and provided a space for multilateral negotiations. Also she reminded us that Belarus has not recognized Russian annexation of Crimea an important caveat to remember. We don't hear about Belarus that often other than news of Lukashenko's dictatorship so it was refreshing to hear about perspectives from the country concerning things more than just regime type.

Next, I attended a talk on "The Role of Media in Russian Democracy" by Nataliya Rostova a George F. Kennan Expert and well known journalist in the region. This talked looked at media coverage during the Yeltsin years and the beginning of the slow decline to authoritarianism and media censorship. The room was packed and it was surprising to see how many people wanted to talk about democracy or the lack thereof in Russia today. Many people had questions looking for linkages between Yeltsin and the current regime under Putin.

Ukraine has been a popular these the past few of weeks at the Kennan Institute and it all began with the talk "Engaging the Arts for a Vibrant, International Ukraine" which I thought was going to be about art but instead focused on cultural and educational exchanges or cultural diplomacy. The speakers Kateryna Smagliy, Director, Kennan Institute in Ukraine, Victor Sydorenko Artist; Director, Modern Art Research Institute, National Academy of Arts of Ukraine, Olha Ivanova, Counselor on Cultural Issues, Embassy of Ukraine to the US, and Hanna Hopko, member of parliament and head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine discussed how to develop Ukraine's "soft power" in light of existing economic constraints and informational challenges within the country. The talk focused on the situation in Ukraine and promoting national interests and connections with the United States.
After that talk Sydorenko's art exhibit "Memory of Unconsciousness"opened in the atrium of the Wilson Center  and Ambassador Valeriy Chaly, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the USA opened up the exhibition with a few words about the strong relationship between Ukraine and the United States.
Me and Hanna Hopko, member of parliament and head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine who is also a member of the Equal Opportunities Women's Caucus I have been writing about lately in parliament for a paper on municipal level gender quotas. I spoke with her about it and she said that they need quotas on the national level in the Rada next! I could not agree more!
Finally, there was an event cosponsored by the National Democratic Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, and the Kennan Institute entitled "Making Democracy Work: The Politics of Reform in Ukraine." Here Hanna Hopko was joined by two other MPs from the Rada Natalya Katser-Buchkovska and Ostap Yednak. They all spoke about the significant list of reforms that they were working on in Ukraine and the barriers faced by reformers in Ukraine.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Life as a Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute

Me outside of the Reagan Building.

I just finished my second week as a Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute, part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Many people have asked what I am doing there this summer so I thought I would devote this post to discussing what I am doing this summer at the Institute!

The Woodrow Wilson Center is the official memorial to President Woodrow Wilson the only president who was a political scientist (he received his PhD in political science and worked as a professor before he was president). The Wilson Center is the "nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for Congress, the Administration and the broader policy community." The center brings in scholars and experts from around the world to research topics of national and international importance. According to the website "in the spirit of President Wilson, we build a bridge between the worlds of academia and public policy, to inform and develop solutions to the nation’s problems and challenges." They do this through organized talks and publications on different topics related to policy where they seek to engage and educate the public. There are different regional programs from every region of the world and thematic programs on subjects such as global sustainability, maternal health, history, science, and technology.

Woodrow Wilson Plaza and the Ronald Reagan Building in the background.
The Wilson Center is housed in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center which is the biggest building in DC and the second largest building in the United States after the pentagon. It was the first and only federal building dedicated to both government and private use, mandated by Congress to bring together the country’s best public and private resources to create a national forum for the advancement of trade. Designated as the official World Trade Center, Washington, DC,

The Wilson Center entrance to the Ronald Reagan Building.
My research fellowship is based in the Kennan Institute which is the regional program for Post-Soviet area studies. It is named after George Kennan a nineteenth-century explorer of Russia and Siberia. George F. Kennan an ambassador, scholar, and one of the foremost experts on the Soviet Union living long enough to see both its formation and its demise (he lived until 101 years of age) worked to establish the center in honor of his cousin twice removed. George F. Kennan was ambassador the the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and one of his first diplomatic posts was to Latvia in 1931. The Kennan collection at the Wilson Center's library is one of the most comprehensive libraries on the Soviet Union in the world.

The Kennan Institute was founded in 1974 with a mission "to build and sustain deep mutual understanding, cooperation, and exchange among intellectual and opinion leaders in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and the surrounding states—a bedrock for regional and global peace, prosperity and security."

I was awarded a Title VIII-Supported Summer Research Scholarships at the Institute for the summer which is a residential fellowship based in DC where I am working on a subject of policy importance-my book on human trafficking policy adoption and implementation. For more information on that please see my previous blog post. I will be writing about my research and all of the interesting events I will be attending in DC throughout the summer. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book Review in the Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society

One of the best things about being an academic and professor is that people send you free books! As a book connoisseur and enthusiast this is an aspect of the job that I hope will never loose its luster. I receive free books from publishers to adopt for my classes and I also receive them in order to review them for academic journals. I recently reviewed a great book from Irina Mukhina on Women and the Birth of Russian Capitalism: A History of the Shuttle Trade. It was published in a special issue of the Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society on Gender, Nationalism, and Citizenship in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. It is great to be featured among a number of notable gender scholars from my region and I am looking forward to receiving the entire paperback copy of the issue in the mail soon (yes, you also get a free copy of the journal when you write for it). You can also read my book review for free if you follow this link

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Role of Anti-trafficking Organizations in Human Trafficking Policy Implementation

It is always nice to see an article I worked on for months finally published. Especially since most academic articles go through two reviewers, editors, and numerous revisions that it such a sense of accomplishment when it finally appears in print. I started working on this article "The Role of Anti-trafficking Organizations in Human Trafficking Policy Implementation" back in April 2015 and it was finally published this week (almost a year later) in a special issue on Modern Slavery and Extreme Exploitation in Globalised Labour and Gender Relations of Femina Politica: Feminist Journal of Political Science.

The paper examines how human trafficking non-governmental and international organizations in the Post-Soviet region act in forming norms and values contributing to the implementation of international law into national law. Utilizing most similar case studies of Ukraine, Latvia, and Russia, the article begins by addressing three ways NGOs have helped guide policy implementation focusing on monitoring implementation, building and shaping anti-trafficking institutions, and strengthening government capacity. It also discusses the constraints that impede this type of assistance in all three countries. This paper demonstrates the ways NGOs have held governments accountable when this implementation has fallen short and by doing this, have helped instill international norms and values related to human trafficking into society. NGOs in these states succeeded with alterations in legal regulations and contributed to public awareness of human trafficking by cooperation with international organizations.

It was my first solo authored piece from my dissertation fieldwork and it is exciting to see all of that hard work pay off. It is also appropriate because it was the first opportunity I had to go back over the implementation findings from my research and it is great to reflect on that as I work on the implementation chapter for my book. If you would like to read the article you can access it here

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Effective Counter Human Trafficking Strategies: Exploring the Latest Research Webinar

On Friday afternoon I attended a very interesting webinar sponsored by the Polaris Project and Google entitled "Effective Counter Human Trafficking Strategies: Exploring the Latest Research." It featured a number of scholars on trafficking including Amy Farrell, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University and Vanessa Bouche, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas Christian University. I have read their research and met both via email so it was great to hear them speak in person (via webinar). They spoke about their recently published Department of Justice study entitled Identifying Effective Counter-Trafficking Programs and Practices in the U.S.: Legislative, Legal, and Public Opinion Strategies that Work. The research examined the effectiveness of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (the national level legislation on human trafficking adopted in 2000) including the criminal justice based anti-trafficking strategies and the public's response to these campaigns.

Some of the most interesting findings they presented were about the shift in prosecutions from the federal to the state level as legislation on the state level has developed. They also said most of the forced labor cases were adjudicated on the federal level which I think suggests the nature of that crime and demonstrates that states are just not equipped to investigate that aspect of the crime yet. Safe harbor legislation increased prosecutions for traffickers on the state level which is a very interesting finding for Georgia as well look to pass this legislation. They also said that the post-it laws led to arrests and were among the strongest predictors of trafficking identification which is also a good sign as we work to implement that legislation in Georgia. One of the most important points from their study for my research in Eastern Europe was that prosecutions and holding traffickers accountable takes investment and states needed more than just criminalization statutes to effectively combat human trafficking. Although I was most interested in the academic research presented at the webinar, there were two other speakers who also presented the practitioner side of things.

It was also the first time I ever live tweeted an event and it was interesting to see what all of the people were saying about it on twitter. Overall, it was a great webinar and I am glad I have the opportunity and time to watch it. If you are interested in watching the webinar, you can watch the video here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Formulating a Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Protocol

Over the past few weeks I have been working on developing a protocol for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children/Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Protocol for Clayton County the county where I live and work in Georgia. I was approached to write this protocol by the head of the Clayton County Child Exploitation Prevention & Response Multi-Disciplinary Team because of my research on human trafficking laws. I happily accepted the challenge and thought it would be interesting to apply everything I have learned from the hundreds of human trafficking policies that I have read over the years and use that to formulate a policy for my county. 

I began utilizing protocol examples of the state level Protocol for the Multidisciplinary  Investigation & Prosecution Cases of Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse & Sexual Exploitation and Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services’ (DFCS) Commercial Sexual Exploitation/Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Case Management Protocol. I found that the first documents dealt mostly with child abuse cases and it felt as if human trafficking was tacked on. Also both of these documents were really geared toward DFCS and not the law enforcement or any type of prosecution procedures which is what we were looking for at the county level. I took the necessary language for the DFCS section of the protocol and the rest will have to be completely reworked. I also removed some of the gendered language from the protocol that I have written about in my academic work and can perpetuate stereotypes about female victims (victims can be male and female) and promote an idealized image of worthy and unworthy victims. I also removed some of the street terminology which I felt was unnecessary in a government protocol and also perpetuated racial and gendered stereotypes.

We wanted to add sections to the protocol on the procedures for police investigation of CSEC, joint investigations between law enforcement and DFCS, prosecution procedures for CSEC cases, medical personnel response, and educational programs. I started working on this language and then I realized that they would need to be approved by the people working in these areas. Consequently, I presented the rough draft of the protocol to the Clayton County Child Exploitation Prevention & Response Multi-Disciplinary Team today and they are going to take their sections to their respective units and send me their comments in May. We are hoping to have a finalized protocol soon after our next meeting and be the first county in the state of Georgia to have a county level CSEC protocol. The process taught me that there was some policy learning and innovation throughout the process as we can see in the policy adoption literature. However, in the end none of the state level protocols met the needs of the multi-disciplinary team and as a result most of the protocol will include completely new procedures on how to work with CSEC cases on the county level. I am looking forward to finishing the final version of the protocol so we can start implementing in throughout Clayton County!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mapping out my book manuscript.....

No, this is not a police department's criminal investigation board, this is the outline for the book I am writing based on my dissertation. I am a visual person and mapping out the different chapters to my book along with the main revisions necessary has helped me wade through the lengthy and overwhelming process. When writing the book seems daunting, I look at the board and break things down into more manageable parts. It helps me see how much I have done and where I am going with the revisions. I know they make computer programs that do that now but I am old school and I enjoy looking this when I need to rework a chapter or change the design of a chapter. I also posted my work plan for the next few months and my table of contents to help me visualize the process. I just started writing the only brand new chapter on policy implementation this week and it is slow going but I know every step is closer to my goal of a finished and published book. The writing and revision process will likely dominate my life this summer while I am in DC as a visiting scholar at the Kennan Institute. Revising is not as glamorous as gathering the data in the field but it is an important part of the scholarly process so I wanted to make sure I documented it in a blog post!