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KIMBERLY KAY HOANG, University of Chicago

  • When: November 15, 2017, 12 pm
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor, Lakeside, Chicago IL 60611

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Risky Investments: Varieties of Relational Obfuscation and Heterogeneous Relations Between Market Actors and State Elites in an Emerging Market

"Risky Investments: Varieties of Relational Obfuscation and Heterogeneous Relations Between Market Actors and State Elites in an Emerging Market" is a comparative study of global capital flows, specifically, foreign investment activities in Vietnam and Myanmar, two of Southeast Asia’s most active emerging and frontier markets. Innovating ethnographic methods, I traveled over 350,000 miles to map a network of global investors. Thereby, I traced the flow of capital from offshore funds in places like the Cayman Islands, Samoa, and Panama to special-purpose vehicles or holding companies in Singapore and Hong Kong, before they were invested in risky markets onshore in Vietnam and Myanmar. I examined how investors capitalize on frontier markets—where rule of law is absent, regulations can quickly change, government intervention is high, and corruption is rife—by cultivating relationships with the important political elites who grant access to invest through licensing and permits. By triangulating concepts in the humanities, economics, and law, this talk will illustrate how firms syndicate risk in contexts where the boundaries between legal and illegal activities intersect in complex ways.

Courtesy of The University of Chicago

Kimberly Kay Hoang’s research interests center on sociology of gender, globalization, economic sociology, and qualitative methods. A central focus of her work is to understand the gendered dynamics of deal brokering in Southeast Asia’s emerging markets.She is the author of, Dealing in Desire: Asian Ascendancy, Western Decline, and the Hidden Currencies of Global Sex Work (2015) published by the University of California Press. This monograph examines the mutual construction of masculinities, financial deal-making, and transnational political-economic identities. Her ethnography takes an in-depth and often personal look at both sex workers and their clients to show how high finance and benevolent giving are intertwined with intimacy in Vietnam's informal economy. Dealing in Desire is the winner of six distinguished book awards from the American Sociological Association, the National Women Studies Association, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

With funding support from the Social Science Research Council and the Fulbright Global Scholar Award, she is currently conducting research for her second book project, Capital Brokers in Emerging Markets. This second book involves a comparative study of the articulation of inter-Asian flows of capital and foreign investment in Southeast Asia.

Her work has been published in Social Problems, Gender & Society, City & Community, Contexts, and the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Her peer reviewed journal articles have won over 10 prizes from the Sociologists for Women in Society, Vietnam Scholars Group, and the American Sociological Association: Section on Global & Transnational Sociology, Section on Race, Gender and Class, Section on Sociology of Sex & Gender, Section on Sociology of Body and Embodiment, Section on Asia and Asian America, and the Section on Sexualities.

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