Kimberly Kay Hoang, Assistant Professor of Sociology

Research on global markets tends to center on either formal markets or shadow economies. Few scholars look at the intertwining relationship between licit and illicit activity in markets. Economists typically cover the realm of the formal economy by using statistics, modeling, and simulation of financial flows, which are devoid of real-life market actors, while humanistic and sociological approaches tend to focus on illicit trades through ethnographies of money laundering, criminal networks, sex work, or shadow banking. Both approaches produce valid insights, but neither approach holistically addresses the question of how illicit activities (i.e. bribery, corruption) necessitate the flow of global capital into formal economies around the world. Emerging markets, which are highly unregulated and subject to corruption, enable us to theorize the intersection between legal vs. illegal activity in markets. These are places where people, politicians, and scholars know that formal and informal economies overlap, yet few have examined how they overlap.

With the CISSR grant, I will bridge theoretical concepts and methodological tools across the humanities, economics, and law to develop a better understanding of global capital flows as driven by specific agents, political elites, and institutional actors. During this fellowship, I am affiliating with the American Bar Foundation and engaging with new literatures to theorize how global laws around corruption, transparency, and taxation structure investment vehicles to manage investor risk across the competing legal jurisdictions of multiple countries. Anticipated outcomes include my second book, Playing in the Gray: Foreign Investments in Frontier Markets, and new collaborative projects that facilitate dialogue among scholars across the humanities, economics, business, and law to interrogate the intersection between licit and illicit activity in other economies.

Kimberly HoangKimberly Hoang is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and the College at the University of Chicago. She received her Ph.D. in 2011 from the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley and in 2012 she won the American Sociological Association Best Dissertation Award. 

Dr. Hoang 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 seven distinguished book awards from the American Sociological Association, the National Women Studies Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the Association for Asian Studies.

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.