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Ketian Vivian Zhang


Welcome! My name is Ketian Vivian Zhang. I am an Assistant Professor of International Security in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. I received my Ph.D. in Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018, where I am also an affiliate of the Security Studies Program. I previously held fellowships with the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Institute for Security and Conflict Studies at George Washington University.



I study rising powers, coercion, economic statecraft, and maritime disputes in international relations and social movements in comparative politics, with a regional focus on China and East Asia. I bridge the study of international relations and comparative politics and have a broader theoretical interest in linking international security and international political economy. In particular, my research agenda emphasizes how globalized production and supply chains affect states' foreign policy, especially regarding coercion and grand strategy. My first book with Cambridge University Press examines when, why, and how China uses coercion when faced with issues of national security, such as territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, foreign arms sales to Taiwan, and foreign leaders’ reception of the Dalai Lama. I gave a TEDx talk based on this book. Part of my research has appeared in International Security, Journal of Strategic Studies, Journal of Contemporary China, Texas National Security ReviewAsia Policyand Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs. My second book project examines the relationship between economic interdependence and rising power grand strategies. My research has been supported by organizations such as the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, Institute for Security and Conflict Studies at George Washington University, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the MIT Center for International Studies, the MIT Energy Initiative, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, and the Charles Koch Foundation. 

I hold a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was previously a research intern at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C., where I was a contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus. Some interviews about me and my research can be found here and here.

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