During my meeting with Professor Bachman on Thursday, November 29th, we briefly revisited and discussed each of the research modules I have completed over the semester. We debated the pros and cons of each design sketch and expounded upon their strengths and weaknesses. Professor Bachman then simply asked which of the three suited my intellectual curiosity the most and which I thought would be most “impactful”. For my first Large N sketch, which looked at how states might abuse INTERPOL for political objectives, we both agreed that, while it was a clever way to capture the manipulation of global governance, the fact that an unknown percentage of the red notices are not publicly accessible taints the validity of my findings. While discussing with Professor Bachman, I realized that when I spoke about Russia’s methods of exporting repression abroad, I felt the urge to tie in other state regimes for comparison. As a researcher, and as a thinker, I am most stimulated when I compare and contrast concept and cases. For this reason, I believe that a small-n case comparative case study is the best methodological avenue for me.
Interestingly enough, my small-n design sketch was the weakest out of my three, but Professor Bachman reassured me that, in the long run, it is better to choose the research module that is both interesting and impactful. After our 45-minute meeting, I spent the following week tweaking my methodology design. Originally, I had planned to use Mill’s Method of Comparison and research both Russian and Chinese policies towards their émigré populations. My concern, thought, was that my two cases were too dissimilar to conduct a valid analysis. As time passed and I read more literature on state-diaspora policies, I began to consider comparing more cases– specifically cases that shared similar historical narratives. Now, I plan to compare state-diaspora policies between a number of former-Soviet Union states/CIS states. I would like to research why some states engage their diasporas via various policies and mechanisms of extraterritorial repression. I emailed Professor Bachman with this recent revelation and will continue reviewing course-materials on how to correctly construct a typology before the final narrative presentation on Tuesday.
I am slightly concerned that I have not read enough state-diaspora relations literature to accurately tease out the most important factors that influence policy. As an amateur researcher, this aspect of neopositivist research – choosing variables a priori—concerns me. Over winter break, I will focus on reading more literature on state-diaspora policies and what factors are the most influential in shaping them. In addition, I will begin to familiarize myself with more CIS state affairs, not just Russia and Georgia.