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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Global Studies

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This series is automatically populated with publications deposited by UC Santa Barbara Global Studies researchers in accordance with the University of California’s open access policies. For more information see Open Access Policy Deposits and the UC Publication Management System.

Cover page of Disruption from above, the middle and below: Three terrains of governance

Disruption from above, the middle and below: Three terrains of governance


AbstractThe term disruption has become a buzzword for our times, although there is little clarity over what the term means, how it is deployed, and towards what ends. In order to understand the analytical and political stakes that are embedded in the deployment of ‘disruption’ as a rationale for various sources of upheaval, in this article I argue that these three terrains of disruption should be understood as theories of governance, and term them ‘disruption from above’, ‘disruption from the middle’, and ‘disruption from below’. Each terrain of disruption embodies different ethoses, actors, and goals: the first connoting elite-driven creative destruction and innovation; the second obfuscating the capitalist imperative that produces world-systemic upheavals; and the third seeking to expose the structures of violence and inequality built into such practices. I illustrate these three terrains through a structural account that traces the popularity of the disruption discourse from its origins to its material application; analyse an illustrative example of the assetisation of infrastructure and how it bureaucratises governance and shifts relations of power; and conclude by examining infrastructural forms of protest against such forms. I argue that the confusion over what disruption means, who exercises it, and upon whom is not a coincidence: rather, disruption's polysemy is structurally produced as a way to disguise ongoing capitalist crisis as a technical problem that market innovations can solve.

Cover page of Learning from Covid: Three Key Variables

Learning from Covid: Three Key Variables


Covid data show that wealth is not health. What then are the major variables that affect public health in the Covid–19 pandemic? Based on onsite research in 26 countries across the world this paper singles out three variables – knowledge, state capability and social cooperation. If one of these is dysfunctional or absent Covid–19 performance suffers. The variables work best in combination. Under consideration are three phases of Covid–19 – virus control, vaccines, and the race with variants. Which types of society best combine these variables? Comparing varieties of market economies – liberal, coordinated and state-led market economies (with four variants), Covid–19 data indicate that coordinated and developmental state-led market economies tend to generate the best combination of variables and public health outcomes, and liberal market economies and rightwing populist countries produce the worst combination. Comparative Covid–19 research points to the limitations of macro theories and methodological nationalism, the importance of the unit of analysis and the database, and how variables interact. At a time when multiple crises interact it leads to reflection on glaring limitations of global governance.

Cover page of Use of historical mapping to understand sources of soil-lead contamination: Case study of Santa Ana, CA.

Use of historical mapping to understand sources of soil-lead contamination: Case study of Santa Ana, CA.


This paper investigates the historical sources of soil-lead contamination in Santa Ana, California. Even though dangerous levels of soil-lead have been found in a wide variety of communities across the United States, public health institutions lack clarity on the historical origins of these crises. This study uses geo-spatial data collected through archival research to estimate the impact of two potential sources of lead contamination in the past -- lead-paint and leaded gasoline. It examines, through a combination of statistical and historical methods, the association between lead concentrations in contemporary soil samples and patterns in the evolution of the city's physical features, such as the growth of urbanized areas and the historical flow of traffic. We emphasize the value of historical data collected through archival research for understanding the sources of environmental lead, particularly leaded gasoline, which our study found to be the most likely and most prominent contributor to soil-lead in Santa Ana's environment. This research contributes to environmental-justice advocacy efforts to reframe lead poisoning as a systemic environmental issue and outlines the path forward to community-level remediation strategies.

Cover page of College Major Restrictions and Student Stratification

College Major Restrictions and Student Stratification


Underrepresented minority (URM) college students have been steadily earning degrees in relatively less-lucrative fields of study since the mid-1990s. A decomposition reveals that this widening gap is principally explained by rising stratification at public research universities, many of which increasingly enforce GPA restriction policies that prohibit students with poor introductory grades from declaring popular majors. We investigate these GPA restrictions by constructing a novel 50-year dataset covering four public research universities’ student transcripts and employing a dynamic difference-in-difference design around the implementation of 29 restrictions. Restricted majors’ average URM enrollment share falls by 20 percent, which matches observational patterns and can be explained by URM students’ poorer average pre-college academic preparation. Using first-term course enrollments to identify students who intend to earn restricted majors, we find that major restrictions disproportionately lead URM students from their intended major toward less-lucrative fields, driving within-institution ethnic stratification and likely exacerbating labor market disparities.

Cover page of Delegation, Sponsorship, and Autonomy: An Integrated Framework for Understanding Armed Group–State Relationships

Delegation, Sponsorship, and Autonomy: An Integrated Framework for Understanding Armed Group–State Relationships


AbstractWhat types of relationships do armed groups have with states? How do different levels of ties and power relations affect both armed group and government behavior? This article develops a spectrum across which armed group–state relationships can move, focusing on three key types of relationships—delegation, sponsorship, and autonomy. An armed group–state relationship may be classified depending on the degree to which the armed group receives material or security support from a state, whether it pursues the strategic aims of the state, and the balance of power between the armed group and the state. I examine cases and empirical examples of relationships between states and armed groups ranging from criminal organizations to Cold War-era rebels to pro-government and communal militias to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and al-Qaeda. As lines between categories of armed groups and between state and non-state actors are increasingly blurred, the integrated framework enhances our ability to analyze the behavior and liabilities of both armed groups and states and to understand sources of leverage for protecting human rights and resolving conflicts.