Research

I am broadly interested in intrastate conflict dynamics and peace processes, including how multi-party conflict influences government strategy, the bargaining power of insurgent groups, and civilian perceptions of state legitimacy. Please read below for information about my current book project, as well as other works in progress.

Book Project

My dissertation looks at exclusive “peace” agreements—those agreements governments make with a subset of the rebel groups they are fighting—and I argue that these agreements function as a part of states’ counterinsurgency strategy. I argue that these agreements serve two different counterinsurgency purposes. First, they build fighting capacity: governments make these agreements with some rebel groups to consolidate the number of fronts they are fighting on as well as to ally with these rebel groups to fight other rebel groups. The government's goals thus affect the institutional design of these exclusive agreements, which are more like to allow rebel groups to retain their weapons and organization rather than to try to disarm and demobilize. Second, governments use exclusive agreements as a hearts and minds-approach to address grievances in the civilian population. If specific ethnic groups, from which rebels recruit and receive operational support, learn that the government is actually treating them favorably by giving them political-economic power-sharing concessions in a negotiated settlement this can help drain away the support from rebels that remain outside the agreement. I am also currently fielding an experiment in the Mindanao region of the Philippines to test this second mechanism.

Present scholarship dichotomizes rebel group behavior as either at peace or in conflict with the state, obscuring a wide range of possible conflict and post-conflict relationships between governments and insurgent groups. Scholarship on rebel against rebel violence often prematurely truncates the window of observation as groups exit datasets once a rebel group ceases armed conflict against the state. My research shows how the formal integration of rebel groups into the armed forces provides clarity and commitment devises that facilitate rebel groups joining in offensives against other rebel groups. How combatants are integrated into the military also influences whether rebels join in counterinsurgency activity. Combatants are most likely to attack other insurgent groups when rebel groups are integrated into the armed forces but allowed to maintain their original organizational structure by serving in separate military units.

I have adopted a mixed-methods approach to testing this theory. I have collected original data on the variation in programs for integrating ex-combatants into the national military and conducted an in-depth case study of counterinsurgency in the Philippines.

Papers Under Review

Dangerous Parties? Explaining Which Ethnic Organizations Participate in Elections
(with Victor Asal and Aila Matanock)

Why do some ethnic organizations become ethnic political parties while others do not? The literature focuses on institutional and ethnic group-based explanations of ethnic parties formation – studying when any organization representing an ethnic group participates in elections, rather than which organizations become parties. Using data on Central and Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2006, and regression models with two-way fixed effects estimators, we test how an organization’s past behavior, international ties, and ideology influence the likelihood of electoral participation. Contrary to theories characterizing ethnic parties as destabilizing forces for democracy, we find that militant and separatist organizations are less likely to become parties, while organizations that advocate for democratic governance and have a history of cooperation are more likely to participate in elections. In contrast to the literature on rebel organizations becoming parties, we find support from international organizations does not meaningfully impact the likelihood ethnic organizations run for office.

Works in Progress

“Geography and Elite Frames: A Study of the Colombian Peace Process” with Natalia Garbiras Diaz

“What’s in a Name? Media Coverage and Islamist Franchises”