My research engages with questions of democracy and violence in fragile states. I use both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the relationships between institutional design, actor capabilities, and meaningful political outcomes.
This page describes work still in progress. Please see the publications page for pieces already accepted or in print.
The Long Shadow of War: Elections after Armed Conflict
Since the end of the Cold War, nearly all countries emerging from civil war have retained or established the formal institutions of multiparty democracy. In some cases, these institutions serve as a means of transferring social conflict from the battlefield to the ballot box and result in sustainable, robust competition. In others, however, elections become a vehicle for the (re)consolidation of political power by a single group or individual. This book project examines this phenomenon by asking three questions. First, why have multiparty elections become so ubiquitous after conflict, and how have a few states evaded this trend? Second, why do these nearly-uniform institutions result in such varying levels of political competition after war? Finally, is the variation driven by top-down dynamics of leadership and political organization, or bottom-up dynamics of voter experience and preference? The study offers a theory of “convertible capabilities” in which post-conflict political outcomes are heavily influenced by the way that conflict itself alters the balance of power among political actors. While some capabilities are specific to military action, others are more convertible to use in electoral politics. The relative distribution of this latter type of capabilities should thus be a significant determinant of the outcomes examined in the project. The project uses cross-national quantitative analysis and mixed-methods, fieldwork-based case studies of Sierra Leone and Mozambique to test the resulting hypotheses.
“Legalizing Opposition in Closed Authoritarian Regimes”
Why do closed authoritarian regimes introduce multiparty politics while blocking other key aspects of democratization? This paper finds that violent conflict significantly influences the legalization of multiple political parties, suggesting that incumbents attempt to legalize limited opposition as a means of re-establishing political dominance under fragile circumstances.
“Diaspora Communities and Election Campaigns in Sierra Leone”
While diaspora involvement in the electoral politics of sending countries is common, it plays a particularly large role in Sierra Leone. This paper identifies the ways in which diaspora communities influence election outcomes in Sierra Leone, identifying their impact on political competition on polling day, as well as their influence on the behavior of political elites between campaigns.
“The Geography of Civil War Violence and Electoral Competition”
This paper uses data on civil war violence and subsequent elections in Mozambique to examine the relationship between exposure to violence and voter behavior, adjudicating between two hypotheses that emerge from prior scholarship. The analysis suggests that exposure to violence polarizes voters at the communal level, increasing district-level margins of victory and decreasing volatility between elections.
“Social Capital Formation and the Ebola Crisis in Sierra Leone”
“Non-State Actors and the United Nations Security Council” (with Anjali Dayal)