Dissertation / Book Project:
"Insurgent Armies: Explaining Military Loyalty after Rebel Victory"
My dissertation examines why some winning armed movements build states with strong civilian regime control over national military forces, while others do not. Even after victory on the battlefield, former rebel movements often struggle to build effective and cohesive national armies. A key reason for this phenomenon is the breakdown of intra-coalition bargaining. New political rulers have incentives to renege on their past promises to armed supporters, creating incentives for military field commanders to retain their own parallel armed networks. These armed networks in turn increase the risks of violent re-mobilization and hinder centralized statebuilding.
To explain ex-rebel commanders’ decision-making during the war-to-incumbency transition, I emphasize the role of wartime institutions that insurgent groups develop during civil war. In particular, when insurgent commanders develop strong social and political bonds within local communities during war, established through service provision and power-sharing with community leaders, these enduring ties can be leveraged by commanders to resist oversight by central rulers in the postwar period. By contrast, where field commanders' linkages to local communities are weak, extra-military networks will be unavailable to commanders after integrating into the armed forces and central rulers can more effectively control the behavior of military elements. To illustrate and test this argument, the dissertation draws on interviews and archival research in Zimbabwe and Côte d'Ivoire, as well as an original dataset of commander-community dyads in territory controlled by the Forces Nouvelles (FN) insurgent group in northern Côte d'Ivoire.
I am indebted to the Fulbright Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the MIT Center for International Studies, the Bridging the Gap Project Summer Fellowship, and MIT GOV/LAB for supporting my dissertation research.
"South African Councillor Panel Study" (with Evan Lieberman and Nina McMurry).
When do elected politicians respond to the wants and needs of their constituents in strong-party systems? This project explores issues of electoral accountability and service delivery in contemporary South Africa, investigating how local government councilors respond to citizen interests as well as the role of party elites. The project includes an original survey of one thousand councilors elected in 2016, electoral and administrative data on over 100,000 local government candidates, and field experiments. Click here for a link to the project website, and here for a preliminary research report on the baseline councilor survey.
"The Politics of Rebel Authority in Postwar States: Theory and Evidence from Côte d'Ivoire" (with Giulia Piccolino and Jeremy Speight)
How do former armed groups exercise authority within communities they governed during civil war? When do ex-militants continue providing public goods at the local level, and when do they turn over such roles to new state authorities? This project examines the social and political roles of ex-rebel leaders in northern Côte d'Ivoire, where former warlords and militant groups continue to play important roles as guarantors of social order. This research draws on extensive qualitative field research, analysis of administrative data, and a survey of 1,200 citizens in rebel-occupied Côte d'Ivoire implemented in partnership with USAID and the Centre de Recherche et de Formation sur le Développement Intégré (CREFDI).