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CDDRL Weekly Research Seminar featuring Honor Student Awardees



Qitong Tom Cao
Marin Callaway

Date and Time

May 31, 2018 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM May 30.


Goldman Conference Room4th Floor East Wing E409, Encina Hall, 616 Serra Street, Stanford, California 94305,

TITLE:  The China Wide Web:  The information Dilemma and the Domestsication of  Cyberspace


Qitong Tom Cao
Major:  Political Science; Computer Science (minor); MS&E (Computational Social Science) (coterm)



In order to preempt severe public discontent, an authoritarian government needs its citizens to convey their true political attitudes. But it does not want their attitudes to be communicated among themselves, which may trigger protests or even subversion in case widespread dissatisfaction exists and becomes citizens common knowledge. This information dilemma thus poses a fundamental threat to the stability and governance of all authoritarian regimes. This thesis, however, argues that the Chinese government is resolving the information dilemma through an innovative approach  by domesticating its internet. On this domestic cyberspace, social media companies delete unfavorable content and report user data to the regime, which can be analyzed to reveal citizens true political attitudes. As such, the government manages both to restrict communication of discontent and to gain knowledge of the political inclination of the public. I will demonstrate formally that this domestic cyberspace presents an optimal solution for authoritarian regimes, and that the Chinese government could attract the bulk of their internet users to the domestic cyberspace despite its inability to fully block access to foreign websites. Finally, I will show empirically that domestic social media also helps increase propaganda efficacy, which reduces perceived level of discontent and further consolidates regime stability. Together, this strategy may potentially afford the regime an information advantage enormous enough to secure its stability without fear of overthrow.


TITLE:  Whose California?  Power, Property Rights, and the Legacy of the 1851 California Land Act


Marin Callaway
Major: International Relations; Spanish (minor)



In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War and ceded over half of Mexico's territory to the United States. But, the valuable new lands gained by the United States were not empty. With the changing border, the country gained a sizable Mexican and Native American population. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo guaranteed the protection of property rights and civil rights of Mexican nationals living on the newly acquired lands. But, in California, the much-delayed California Land Act of 1851 put the burden of proof on Mexican landowners to receive a formal U.S. patent to their land. Landowners, who had received private land grants or ranchos from the Mexican government, underwent lengthy litigation. This thesis evaluates the Land Act's impact on Mexican land ownership, measures the extent to which original grantees were able to retain their lands, and describes the contentious evolution of land and power in California in the nineteenth century. In an effort to add empirical evidence to the historical literature, I find that 58% of patented ranchos remained in the name of the original grantees by the patent date with greater retention in Southern California than Northern California. However, the finding that less than 20% of ranchos in Los Angeles County were owned even in part by original grantees by 1888 reveals that land loss became even more pronounced after patents were issued. The findings of this thesis both support and contradict traditional claims about the fate of Mexican land grant ownership in California throughout the nineteenth century. By determining what the rates of land grant retention were for original grantees throughout California and in individual counties, it is possible to better understand the legacy of the Land Act and how it interacted simultaneously with other social, economic, and political phenomena to ultimately result in significant loss of Mexican land ownership in the state. This thesis treats nineteenth century California as a case study of minority rights in annexed land. It ultimately argues that Mexicans and Mexican-Americans suffered most under a lack of rule of law and uncertainly surrounding property rights and citizenship. The California Land Act of 1851 upheld property rights but was too little too late for a group that was by 1851 the minority in the state.



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