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    Energy as the work of nature: the quandaries of sacrificial productivism in Chiloé, south of Chile

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    Chiloé, an archipelago in the south of Chile, has been the setting of recent conflicts around the expansion of energy infrastructure. My research explores these contestations in the wider ecological and political context of the relations between the archipelago and the Chilean state. I analyse these conflicts around energy generation as the latest phase of a much longer history of struggles for and against connectivity and related processes of making the land productive. I contextualize the ambiguous relation with energy my interlocutors had in tandem with their idea of work as a human activity. The concept of work, I suggest, is inseparable from the wider moral and political understanding of energy as the work of nature. I argue that both work and energy have been developed as goods in themselves, as part of the historical trajectory of ideas of moral worth, care and productivity in Chiloé Within this context, I show that understanding certain activities as 'work' is not a universal or default category; its imposition has relied worldwide on different institutions. In the case of Chiloé, I focus on the role the Spanishimposed encomienda had as a seminal moment of transformation and displacement of other forms of social action, such as the minga. The contradictions that emerge in the expectations around work can be found in the idea of sacrifice, and in a certain relation to work as being sacrificial. A similar denunciation and understanding of sacrifice can be found in the notion of sacrifice zones, a term used among my interlocutors to express the dangers that come with making a place productive. I develop my argument across two lines: processes of energy planning and other state-led instances of bureaucratic evaluation of energy projects, and the issues Chilote collectives brought forward in their defence of the archipelago’s autonomy in relation to energy projects

    Globalisation, legitimacy and public deliberation

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    Most significant policy issues facing humanity reach across national borders. Consequential political decisions with cross-national effects are frequently made by states, non-state organisations, and corporations. Under these circumstances, it is widely acknowledged that it is important to conduct public deliberation at the global level. Below this shallow agreement, however, lies much less clarity on how deliberative principles can be applied at the global level. This challenge is the focus of my thesis. I begin by arguing that existing theories of global deliberation have not yet satisfactorily answered two questions. The first pertains to the agents involved: who speaks? The second relates to procedure and institutional design: where should global deliberation take place? In both cases I suggest that modifications to prevalent views in the existing literature are required. To press this argument, the thesis identifies several epistemic and non-epistemic values that public deliberation seeks to realise, before testing candidate proposals for institutionalising global deliberation against these values. I then turn to the primary contribution of the thesis, on the question of how supranational public deliberation should be conducted. To do this I conceptualise and address the problem of global public justification: how, if at all, is it permissible to impose a set of international laws and rules on a world population that is deeply pluralistic in its moral and political attitudes? There have been three main attempts to resolve this problem, locating legitimacy in either competition, neutrality or dialogue between different value systems. I argue that neither of the first two attempts succeeds. I then develop and defend the third route to global legitimacy, outlining its general features, and illustrating how it should proceed. To do this, I analyse a particular value or principle which would be likely to emerge from philosophical dialogue as a publicly justifiable value for use in global decision-making: the value of ‘oneness’

    Afterlives of legitimacy: a political ethnography of two post-industrial towns in England

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    This dissertation asks whether there is a crisis of legitimacy in England’s post-industrial towns. Quantitative literatures suggest former mining and manufacturing towns now register high levels of political mistrust and disengagement – patterns which cannot be explained through economics or demographics alone. On the basis of a political ethnography of the towns of Corby and Mansfield, this thesis argues that it has become common for residents of both towns to understand politics primarily through the frame of corruption. The corruption frame is intertwined with a set of assumptions about agency, morality, care and the future, profoundly shaping dispositions towards politics. It constitutes a challenge to the legitimacy of the political system, while also fostering acquiescence in the face of overwhelmingly powerful forces. The thesis considers several common explanations for a withdrawal of consent. Far from being ‘forgotten’ or ‘left behind’, both case study areas were actively remade after they lost their core industries. These processes changed the dispositions of political representatives and local powerbrokers. At the heart of the political shift lies the connection between a political economy and a symbolic economy. Their position of logistical power had once afforded workers in both towns “tokens of care” in the form of clubs, leisure centres and medical facilities. Oppositions between workers, employers and the state were euphemised into a set of moral relations. As the political economy of both areas has shifted, the basis for this symbolic economy has eroded. Moralised understandings of politics have reversed into their mirror image: a sense of ubiquitous corruption. This analysis of two post-industrial towns, I argue, opens up new ways of understanding the connection between deindustrialisation and political discontent and forces us to reconsider our theories of legitimacy

    Walking with Jesus in indigenous Amazonia: for an anthropology of paths

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    This thesis is an exploration of paths and Christianity among the Ye’kwana, a Carib-speaking group in the Venezuelan Amazon. It is based on two years of fieldwork among Christian Ye’kwana, mainly an extended family network from the Upper Orinoco region. Under the evangelizing action of the New Tribes Mission, an American missionary organization, the Ye’kwana from that region converted en masse to Baptist Christianity in the fifties of last century. Today, the Ye’kwana celebrate their own form of Baptist Christianity. One defining feature of the latter is that it is articulated using a social language of paths, mainly by Ye’kwana from older generations. Paths and tubes have been a recurrent topic in the anthropology of Amazonia, where they have been associated with ideas of energy transformation, indigenous notions of the body, or music and sound. It has also been suggested that paths and tubes might be a totalizing representation that some indigenous Amazonians use to think about the world. However, the implications that this possibility might have for how indigenous Amazonian conceive of sociality or change have not been fully explored. In this thesis it is argued that the Ye’kwana conjure up in their notion of paths an idea of the world and social life as made of rhythmic flows that are perceived and experienced through processes of entrainment. The transformations brought about by conversion to Christianity, including those centered on the body and sense of humanness, can be understood as taking place within this framework and being governed by ideas of how change happens within it. This thesis ultimately argues for an anthropology of paths in indigenous Amazonia that centers on direct perception of the world and that captures how indigenous people express this using the theme of the path/tube

    An embodied approach to informational interventions: using conceptual metaphors to promote sustainable healthy diets

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    Poor diet quality and environmental degradation are two major challenges of our times. Unhealthy and unsustainable dietary practices, such as the overconsumption of meat and consumer food waste behaviour, contribute greatly to both issues. Across seventeen online and field experiments, in two different cultures (US and China), this thesis investigates if the embodied cognition approach, and more specifically, research on conceptual metaphors, can be used to develop interventions to promote sustainable healthy diets. Interventions relying on conceptual metaphors have been shown to stimulate attitudinal and behavioural changes in other fields (e.g., marketing and political communications), but are rarely adopted to encourage sustainable healthy diets. To fill in this gap in the literature, I conducted five sets of experimental studies examining the effects of different metaphors on specific sustainable healthy dietary practices, each of which forms an independent empirical paper (Chapters 2-6 of the thesis). After introducing the current perspectives on embodied cognition and conceptual metaphors in the context of this research (Chapter 1), Chapter 2 looks into the conceptual metaphor “Healthy is Up”, demonstrating that US people implicitly associate healthiness with verticality, and offering recommendations for healthy eating guidelines. Chapter 3 extends this research to Chinese samples and partially replicates the results. Chapter 4 shows that the anthropomorphic metaphor “Animals are Friends” discourages meat consumption by inducing anticipatory guilt among US omnivores, whereas Chapter 5 reveals that Chinese omnivores are more responsive to another anthropomorphic metaphor, namely, “Animals are Family”. Bringing lab insights 6 to the real world, Chapter 6 demonstrates with a longitudinal field experiment that anthropomorphic metaphors together with environmental feedback result in a higher reduction in food waste as compared to other feedback interventions. The strengths, limitations and implications of those empirical papers are discussed in the conclusive part of the thesis

    Northern Nigerian women in and beyond the Boko Haram conflict: complexities of media, communications, and gendered agency

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    Examining neglected aspects of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east region, this thesis opens with a discussion of the historical invisibility of northern Nigerian women. It traces the erasure or misunderstanding of their voice and agency in national and international public debate and in stereotypical tropes in the media coverage of the ongoing conflict. Then, substantively, through alternative theorisations of agency which centre the experiences and articulations of northern Nigerian women who have become victim-survivors of the insurgency, the work provides a culturally and historically grounded account of displaced women’s struggles, negotiations, and mediated encounters. Employing a postcolonial lens, this thesis theorises the ways in which Northern Nigerian women engage with media representations and communications technologies as they navigate gendered structures and expectations, trauma, violence, and displacement. De-centring media representations, I come to investigate, how northern Nigerian women’s lived experiences of gender, conflict, trauma, victimisation, and survival, coincide with or diverge from the ways they are constructed and imagined in scholarly and media coverage of the insurgency. The conceptual framework of this study melds media practice theory, theories of representation and racism, concepts from Global South, African and transnational feminism, and nuanced discussions of agency that often elude or have been suppressed by the European liberal philosophical tradition. Notably, these include agency’s fluidity and ephemerality, its embodiment, contingency and potential for contamination – to elucidate how the political and media logics of media coverage of the insurgency are received and contested by victim-survivors of the insurgency. Scaffolded by these conceptual areas, I conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews and ethnographic participant observation in the north-east of Nigeria between 2021-2022 with sixty women displaced victim-survivors of the insurgency. Analysis of findings reported in empirical chapters includes reflections on how the socially transformative impact of conflict complicates and extends scholarly conceptualisations of agency. Further, systematic thematic and discourse analysis of my data indicates that northern Nigerian women’s responses to the conflict reflect and produce multiple subjectivities, ranging from those that conform with hegemonic representation and constructions of themselves as ‘the other’, to those in complete opposition; and a spectrum of other negotiated positions. Other unpredictable manifestations of these representations of themselves, men in their communities, their experiences, and, their agency are expressed through overlapping boundaries of identity, defined by factors such as ethnicity, class, age, religion etc. My conclusions argue for a rethinking of the role of violent conflict, displacement and the media in reconfiguring gendered practices, its norms and values; and a reconceptualisation of agency both materially and discursively, to give those who wish to intervene in extended violent conflict situations a more stable and holistic position from which to theorise and to act

    Essays on regional inequalities, innovation and global connectivity

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    This dissertation studies how global connectivity shapes local economic development, looking at regional inequalities and innovation. It empirically contributes to our current understanding of the local distributional effects of economic globalisation and the effects of international disintegration. This dissertation comprises five chapters, with the first one introducing and motivating the overarching theme and the four remaining being self-contained empirical papers. It refers to literature from economic geography, international economics, innovation studies, and economics of inequality, exploring the regional perspective in Europe and the US. In the first part, in Chapter 1, the overarching theme of the local distributional effects of economic globalisation is introduced. It describes the evolution of the current wave of economic globalisation, measured by trade, global value chains and the role of global companies such as multinational enterprises. While during this initial phase a stark upward trend in economic globalisation has been observed, concerns over its benefits have been increasingly voiced. In this period of “hyperglobalisation” the costs of economic globalisation have become more salient, spurring a backlash against globalisation. This dissertation provides evidence on globalisation-induced inequality at the regional level for the US and Europe and emphasises the need to address the local distributional effects. This specifically means compensating those that are adversely affected by economic globalisation, in order to avoid potential costs stemming from international disintegration. The second part contains three empirical papers, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4, which provides evidence on the local distributional effects of economic globalisationin the US and Europe. The regional perspective regarding the effects of economic globalisation on inequality has often been neglected, which is one of the main intended contributions of this dissertation. Analysing the relationship at the regional level is particularly relevant as economic activity significantly varies across space and it can offer valuable insights that are only possible to uncover when examining at a more granular level. In this dissertation, distributional effects describe either inter-firm dynamics like innovation concentration or interpersonal income inequality. Chapter 2 looks at the relationship between multinational enterprises and intra-regional innovation concentration within US states. While patenting concentration measured by the Gini coefficient has increased for more than three decades, we still lack evidence on the role of global firms such as multinationals. Thus, the paper analyses to what extent the presence of multinationals influences inter-firm innovation concentration, showing a positive link between the presence of domestic-owned multinationals and patenting concentration, which is more pronounced with a high share of MNEs and for non-MNEs. Concentration between firms might also affect inequality between people. The second and third paper focus on the distribution of income, showing that engaging more in trade and global value chains is linked to higher interpersonal income inequality within European regions at the NUTS-2 level. Chapter 3 analyses how trade affects income inequality, finding a positive association between trade and regional income inequality changes, which varies based on trading partners. Chapter 4 studies the link between global value chain participation and income inequality, showing that it matters how regions participate in global value chains and in which sectors. In the third and final part of this dissertation, in Chapter 5, I focus on the effects of international disintegration, by looking at the effect of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. It examines the effect of Brexit on the adoption of digital technologies by small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK from 2013-2019. By providing timely and detailed measures for digital technology adoption, it offers novel and deeper insights into SMEs’ reactions to this shock

    Factor modelling for tensor time series

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    High dimensional tensor time series data is increasingly prevalent across various fields. In the analysis of such data, factor modelling plays a crucial role as a dimension reduction tool. While traditional factor models primarily handle vector time series, the exploration of matrix or tensor factor models under various assumptions is still in its early stages and has attracted increasing interest in recent years. In this thesis, we develop a tensor factor model under the presence of both serial and cross-correlations in the idiosyncratic components, assuming only bounded fourth order moments for the time series variables. Moreover, we incorporate a spectrum of different factor strengths into the model, in contrast to the prevalent assumption in many literature that considers only pervasive factors. The inclusion of serial dependence noise and weak factors makes our model more compatible with real data, especially in economics and finance. With the relaxed assumptions in our model, we propose a pre-averaging procedure to initially estimate the factor loading spaces, which achieves signal accumulation through the random projection of tensor fibres. Furthermore, we develop an iterative projection algorithm to improve the re-estimation of factor loadings by projecting the data onto the strongest estimated factor directions. To estimate the number of factors, we introduce a new core tensor rank estimation method through correlation analysis on the projected data. Theoretical guarantees are provided for all estimators, and extensive simulations, as well as analyses of real datasets, are conducted to compare our methods with other state-of-the-art or traditional alternatives. Finally, we present a new method for estimating factor strengths with empirical results provided and introduce a novel matrix convergence criterion for specific covariance matrix estimators, offering valuable insights into directions for future research

    Shareholder activism: the interactions between firm meetings and asset markets

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    My thesis aims to investigate how different financial markets (equity lending, option, and stock) could work together to separate cash flow rights and voting rights, how different agents (large shareholders, activist investors, and managers) choose their optimal action with the existence of such markets, and the consequences of their actions. In Chapter I, I document the empirical relevance between equity lending and call-and-put option trading markets for the separation of voting rights and cash flow rights. I explore the cross-sectional and time series variation of the voting price and lending/option-trading volume in the two markets around the firm meeting voting record date, the time when voting shares holding is registered for the firm meeting. Price-wise, voting rights are in general higher measured by option trading than in the equity lending market, however lower during director elections. Volume-wise, there exists an observable increase in options trading volume before firm meetings, especially for non-regular filings. These facts reveal that shareholder activism generally exists before controversial meetings and voting rights are in high demand in one market or another before firm meetings. In Chapter II, I investigate the price and quantities associated with firm voting rights in two markets that facilitate voting rights trading around the firm's meeting voting record date. I show there exists a cross-substitution between the two markets regarding voting rights trading. With a lower supply of shares in the equity lending market, I found increasing institutional investors' abnormal buy in the shares trading market, and simultaneously, lower price of voting rights. I introduce exogenous variation of equity lending supply through total passive institutional holding. Such evidence supports the prevalence of empty voting practice before firm meetings. In Chapter III, I examine the impact of shareholder activism on firm valuation and managerial behavior through a particular channel: management proposals. I study the theoretical implication of the management rent-seeking motives if we consider the manager’s project searching monitored by a large share-holder and hence, causing the manipulation of management proposal voting at firm meetings. With such an understanding, I explore the impact of shareholder rejecting management proposals. As analysed by the theory, the higher private benefit, the higher management proposal manipulation at the firm voting, and hence, causing empirical endogeneity problem. Thus I introduce a novel souce of exogenous variation, pre-meeting call option trading volume, which is shown to cause more management proposal failures. With this instrument, I find diverging effects of shareholder activism and managerial initiative. Private benefit leads to managerial value creation in total, and is associated with lower non-CEO executive turnover; on the contrary, activism leads to large 7 days cumulative abnormal returns and is associated with higher non-CEO executive turnover, showing that activism does have a counter-effect on management rent-seeking at a cost. In this chapter, I measure managerial private benefit through reversing the option-constructed voting premium and find that this helps with identifying the effect of managerial voting manipulation. To conclude, I find that empty voting is a widely existing practice and is shown, both theoretically and empirically, to be associated with firm outcomes. Both firm management and activists employ them in different fashion and different markets. Highlighting the role of such practice helps with introducing additional empirical evidence relating to the analysis of corporate governance in general

    Statistical modelling with additive Gaussian process priors

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    Regression with Gaussian process (GP) priors has become increasingly popular due to its ability to model complex relationships between variables and handle auto-correlation in the data through the covariance function of the process, called kernel. Despite its popularity, the statistical modelling aspect of GP regression has received relatively limited attention. In this thesis, we explore a regression model where the regression function can be decomposed into a sum of lower-dimensional functions, akin to the principles of Generalised Additive Models (Hastie and Tibshirani, 1990). We propose additive interaction modelling using a class of hierarchical ANOVA decomposition kernel. This flexible statistical modelling framework naturally accommodates interaction effects of any order without increasing the number of model parameters. Our approach facilitates straightforward assessment and comparison of models with different interaction structures through the model marginal likelihood. We also demonstrate how this framework enhances the interpretability of complex data structures, especially when combined with the concept of kernel centring. The second segment of the thesis focuses on the computational aspects of implementing the proposed additive models for handling large-scale data structured in multidimensional grids. Such structured data often arise in scenarios involving multilevel repeated measurements, as commonly seen in spatio-temporal analysis or medical, behavioural, and psychological studies. Leveraging the Kronecker product structure within the covariance matrix, we reduce the time complexity to O(n3) and storage requirements to O(n2). We extend existing work in the GP literature to encompass all models under hierarchical ANOVA decomposition kernels. Additionally, we address issues related to incomplete grids and various missingness mechanisms. We illustrate the practical application of our proposed methodologies using both simulated and real-world spatio-temporal and longitudinal data


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