"The Wartime Roots of Military Obedience and Defiance in Insurgent-Ruled States"
My dissertation explores why some winning rebel movements build states with strong civilian regime control over national military forces, while others do not. I argue that insurgent armies face a difficult bargaining problem after seizing power: new political rulers have incentives to renege on their past promises to armed supporters, which in turn creates incentives for military field commanders to retain irregular armed networks outside of formal command structures. I theorize that the decision-making calculus of field commanders during the war-to-incumbency transition is shaped by the nature of the wartime institutions developed by insurgents during the armed struggle. 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. The dissertation draws on interviews and archival research in Zimbabwe and Côte d'Ivoire, as well as an original survey of community informants in localities 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.
Job market paper:
"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).