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Working Papers

Reconsidering Talaq

Marcus, Anthony. 2012. “Reconsidering Talaq: Marriage, Divorce and Sharia Reform in the Republic of Maldives” in Chitra Raghavan and James Levine. Self-Determination and Women’s Rights in Muslim Societies. Lebanon, NH: Brandeis University Press.

The Maldives, an entirely Muslim society that is reputed to have the highest divorce rate in the world, enacted comprehensive family law reform in 2001 designed to create greater equality between men and women. One of the key aspects of this reform was new restrictions on the verbal male divorce prerogative known as talaq. This chapter takes up this key issue in the Maldives as a case study to reveal some of the contradictions between de jure reform and de facto outcomes. Although the reforms created near-equality of the sexes before the law, the chapter argues that the two constituent components—Western secular law and Islamic religious law—created a dialectic between two forms of patriarchy that endangers the customary rights and freedoms that Maldivians understand to be their peculiarly national version of “folk Islam” With regard to marriage and divorce, this folk Islam contains surprising spaces for women’s quotidian social and sexual agency that may be endangered by largely top-down attempts to reform family law, make it more gender equal, and bring the Maldives in line with international norms governing the nexus between family, property, and the state.

Nain Networks Project Brief
In New York:
Kirk Dombrowski Principal Investigator & Lead Author, Bilal Khan Co-Principal Investigator, Joshua Moses Senior Ethnographer, Emily Channell, Katherine McLean, Evan Misshula, Nathaniel Dombrowski, William Jett, Ric Curtis
In Nain: Frances Williams, Jane Dicker, Toby Pijogge, Eva Lampe

The Nain Networks Project team interviewed 330 adult residents of Nain over the course of 5 ½ months about the ways they exchange country food, store-bought food, traditional knowledge, help and advice about domestic problems, information and assistance in obtaining jobs and housing, who they consume alcohol with, and about their kinship connections to others in the community. This Report Brief details the findings from the report. It was produced as part of the community reporting procedures with the residents of Nain. The technical analysis is behind the conclusions reached in the Brief are available from the reports authors. This project was supported by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs, Division of Arctic Social Sciences, ARC 0908155, with the approval of the Nunatsiavut Research Committee. All of the material contained here was obtained with the informed consent of all participants. The analysis of the data and all conclusions and recommendations are the responsibility of the Principal Investigator/Lead Author and do not represent the opinions of either the U.S. National Science Foundation, The Nunatsiavut Government, the Nunatsiavut Research Committee, or the City University of New York. Dr. Kirk Dombrowski remains solely responsible for the full content of this report. We would like to thank the community of Nain and the 330 people who took time out of their day to speak with us and help find others who were willing to do the same. Most special thanks go to Frances Williams, Eva Lampe, Toby Pijogge, and Jane Dicker, who worked for the project in various ways, and provided considerable information on community context, participated in a full census of household residents, facilitated the interpretation of interview data, and provided personal insights into the nature and structure of social connections in Nain. Without their help, the project would have had far fewer successes, and the relationship between the researchers and the community would not have been nearly as welcoming and enthusiastic. It is with great sincerity that their contribution to the success of the project is recognized here, and our debt to their understanding, patience, and generosity is large.

Dynamics of Methamphetamine Markets in New York City: Final Technical Report to the National Institute of Justice
Travis Wendel, Bilal Khan, Kirk Dombrowski, Ric Curtis, Katherine McLean, Evan Misshula, Robert Riggs, David M. Marshall IV
October 2011
Award Number: 2007-IJ-CX-0110
Using Respondent Driven Sampling, this study piloted an innovative research design mixing qualitative and quantitative data collection methods, and social network analysis, that addresses a gap in information on retail methamphetamine markets and the role of illicit drug markets in consumption. Based on a sample of 132 methamphetamine users, buyers and sellers in New York City (NYC), findings describe a bifurcated market defined by differences in sexual identity, drug use behaviors, social network characteristics, and drug market behaviors. The larger sub-market is a closed market related to a sexual network of men who have sex with men (MSM) where methamphetamine (referred to as “tina”) is used as a sex drug. The smaller submarket is a less-closed market not denominated by sexual identity where methamphetamine (referred to as “crank,” “speed,” or “crystal meth”) overlaps with powder and crack cocaine markets. Participants in the MSM submarket viewed “tina” as very different from cocaine, due to what they characterized as the drug’s intense sexual effects, whereas participants in the smaller non-sexual-identity-denominated submarket saw “crystal meth” as a cost-effective alternative to cocaine. While majorities of participants in all subpopulations studied reported that their use of methamphetamine primarily centered on sex, almost all (91%) MSM reported this. Many MSM reported that their sexuality had become indistinguishable from their drug use. MSM had denser patterns of social network ties and many more sex partners than other subpopulations. MSM market participants reported higher prices for the drug, which may be an indication that they are accessing purer forms of methamphetamine. Participants were more willing to discuss accessing or purchasing methamphetamine than they were to discuss providing or selling the drug, although all indications are that most market participants do both. Compared with the sometimes highly organized markets that have existed for other illegal drugs (e.g., heroin, cocaine, marijuana), retail methamphetamine markets have remained, by contrast, relatively primitive in their social and technical organization, and distinct patterns of drug use emerged as an outcome of interactions between drug providers and members of their social networks. In this case, those with less structurally advantageous positions within the network must depend on better-positioned network contacts to supply them with methamphetamine. Findings from the study indicate that the most striking characteristic of the methamphetamine market in New York City is the extent of the secondary market. Study data suggests this large secondary market has developed because of “bottlenecks” in the chain of distribution, which may be the outcome of the inconsistent supply of methamphetamine available in New York City. Participants reported essentially no violence in connection with methamphetamine markets in NYC. Participants have a lifetime total of 13 methamphetamine possession arrests for the sample of 132; none has ever been arrested for methamphetamine distribution. Study findings may be useful to practitioners, policy-makers and researchers in fields including law enforcement, criminal justice, and public health and substance abuse treatment.

Can post-incarceration restrictions on association be made ethical?
Evan Misshula PhD Candidate (Criminal Justice)
July 12, 2012
Abstract: This paper constructs an ethical framework for ex-prisoners trying to cope with the sometimes contradictory demands of reentry. The proposal is inspired by the Center for Criminal Justice Ethics’ Character Project and seeks to inform the development of character with recent revelations in the health impact of social networks.

Heterogeneity and its impact on Thermal Robustness and Attractor Density.
A network theory paper from Complex Adaptive Systems, Volume 1. (2011)
Cantor, Khan, Dombrowski
There is considerable research relating the structure of Boolean networks to their state space dynamics. In this paper, we extend the standard model to include the effects of thermal noise, which has the potential to deflect the trajectory of a dynamical system within its state space, sending it from one stable attractor to another. We introduce a new “thermal robustness” measure, which quantifies a Boolean network’s resilience to such deflections. In particular, we investigate the impact of structural homogeneity on two dynamical properties: thermal robustness and attractor density. Through computational experiments on cyclic Boolean networks, we ascertain that as a homogeneous Boolean network grows in size, it tends to underperform most of its heterogeneous counterparts with respect to at least one of these two dynamical properties. These results strongly suggest that during an organism’s growth and morphogenesis, cellular differentiation is required if the organism seeks to exhibit both an increasing number of attractors and resilience to thermal noise.

Brooklyn Link to Care Coalition Peer Outreach Report
A report from the Brooklyn Link to Care Coalition describing the results of a four site pilot study of the viability and limitations of using peer outreach for HIV testing in high risk neighborhoods in Brooklyn, NY
Dombrowski, Baker, Curtis and McLean (2010)

The CSEC Population in New York City
An NIJ Project Report on an ethnographic study and population estimate of the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children of New York City produced in conjunction with the Center for Court Innovation, New York City.
Curtis, Terry, Dank, Dombrowski and Khan (2008)