Iza Ding

Iza Ding is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh with a secondary appointment in public policy at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. As a scholar of political development and legacies across the communist and post-communist world, she uses diverse methodological tools to explore pressing public policy issues. She has active projects in the realms of environmental policy, legal development, bureaucratic organizations, and public opinion. Dr. Ding received her Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University, and her B.A. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, earning a dual degree in Political Science and Russian and Eastern European Studies.

Currently, Dr. Ding is completing a book manuscript entitled The Performative State. Her book explores how the environmental bureaucracy in China redeems itself in the eyes of the citizens in light of its severe environmental problems, the associated public outcry, and significant administrative challenges. After five months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Chinese EPA and an original national public opinion survey, she shows that under the dual constraints of low capacity and high scrutiny, the Chinese EPA engages in “performative governance”—the theatrical deployment of language, symbols, and gestures to project an image of good governance to citizens, and that performative governance is effective at placating public sentiments. This challenges the prevailing theory of “performance legitimacy”—a notion that is popular in the media and academic circles—by demonstrating that states can legitimate themselves through performativity and not just the delivery of material benefits. The manuscript is based on her doctoral dissertation which received two best dissertation awards from the American Political Science Association.

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