Student Panelist: Michael Carbone

Michael Carbone

China Studies, Energy, Resources & Environment, International Law & Organizations
Johns Hopkins SAIS

Panel III: Migration

Paper: “Supporting Rural Development in China Through Information Sharing Networks for Migrants” 

1. Please briefly introduce yourself.

Hey everyone! I’m a second-year of the joint M.A. program between the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, PRC and the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. I lived in China for two years, and during my year at the Center I studied a variety of topics including Chinese law, international human rights law, minority issues, and rural development, in addition to starting a bilingual community news site. In DC I currently focus on the interactions between international law, media, and technology and information policy. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of Chicago, so DC completes my reluctant eastern migration.

2. How did you get interested in your paper topic?

I was fortunate to take an excellent class entitled Politics of Rural Development taught by Professor Adam Webb at the Hopkin-Nanjing Center in Nanjing, PRC. Part of the strength of the class was the opportunity to apply what we read and discussed in class to research in the field in support of a paper. I had wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and explore development from a point of view unique to China, so after some brainstorming I became stuck on the idea of exploring whether the annual Spring Festival migration was recognized or used  as a potential development vector, and from there I expanded the topic to explore the perception and obstacles to migration in general.
3. What was your research process? Do you have a tip that you would like to share?

Luckily I was doing field research with a couple other students who were exploring related topics, so by sharing our interviews with each other we were able to collect a much larger and richer sample than we could have otherwise. As it was my first time doing field interviews, I found this enormously helpful, and I’d imagine it’s a good strategy in general.

4. Do you have any advice for other students who may be interested in submitting a paper for next year’s SAIS Asia Conference?

I have no real advice, except perhaps to always leave a good research trail for yourself when you’re writing a paper, as you never know when you’ll return to it and want to expand or update it.

5. What is your plan after graduation?

When I graduate in December I plan to work at the intersection of ICT (information & communications technology) and human rights, development, and governance. That could be in government, at a multilateral, or in one of the many NGOs focusing on these topics. I love possibilities so I look forward to a future entirely different to these plans.

6. If you can ask a question to someone – either dead or alive – what would you ask to whom?

I’d ask Hegel: what’s the difference between a duck?


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