My research interests are united by a drive to understand the ideas, institutions, and practices that produce or inhibit order, conflict, and violence. In addition to my book project and published work, I have a number of research projects in progress on civil conflict, revolutionary regimes, protest, democracy and autocracy, and security and state building in the Global South. Working papers are available on request and where applicable I have listed the last conference at which a paper was presented. View my Google Scholar profile here.

Book Project

When Rebels Win: Ideology, Statebuilding, and Power after Rebel Victory in Civil Wars

When rebels win civil wars, what types of state structures do they build, how do they seek to assert their authority, and how do they govern in practice? I theorize that the goal orientation and organizational decisions of top-level leaders shape the institutions and practices of groups while fighting as rebels and that these patterns will carry over into their time in power. I argue that we can distinguish among rebel organizations on the basis of their political-ideological programs, their goals, and their relations with the civilian population, which will shape the form and character of the states built after victory. Drawing on fieldwork in three countries—Nicaragua, Uganda, and Liberia—I find that rebel organizations’ statebuilding and service provision practices depend on 1) whether their leaders develop a transformational program to significantly change political, social and economic structures, or whether they have more narrow aims of gaining power and wealth, and 2) whether they are seeking to benefit a broader public or working for their own self-interest and narrow constituencies. This affects the recruitment practices, internal organizational policies, and rebel governance of organizations while fighting as rebels and has path dependent effects into the groups’ time governing internationally-recognized states. I use additional case studies from Angola and elsewhere in Africa and Asia to probe the theory’s generalizability. This research contributes theoretical and historical grounding to academic and policy debates on rebel governance, state building, and post-civil war governance and development.

I have presented draft portions of the theory and case studies at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, International Studies Association, and African Studies Association. The book manuscript is revised from my dissertation, which I defended in 2018. I have written about the project and my research in the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs’ Centerpiece magazine (pdf here, pp.10-12) and discussed it in a Q&A with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation’s Challenges to Democracy blog.

Work Submitted

“Statebuilding and Indigenous Rights Implementation: Political Incentives, Social Movement Pressure, and Autonomy Policy in Central America” (with Giorleny Altamirano Rayo and Eric Mosinger) – revise and resubmit at World Development

“From Insurgent to Incumbent: Ideology, Rebel Governance, and Statebuilding after Rebel Victory in Civil Wars”

“Levels of Analysis and Theories of Violence in Civil Wars: Ideology and Contestation in Nicaragua”

Working Papers

“Civil Wars as Critical Junctures: Theoretical Grounding and Empirical Applications” (2022 APSA Annual Meeting)

“Disentangling African Insurgent Ideologies” (with Jason Warner, 2017 APSA Annual Meeting)

“Ideology, Perception, and Strategic Decision-Making in a Revolutionary State: Mistakes and Adjustment in FSLN Security Policy in Nicaragua” (2018 LASA Congress)

“Left-Wing Authoritarianism: The Marxists and the Machiavellians” (with Dan Slater)

“The Paradox of Revolutions: How Can We Isolate the Causal Effects of Transformative Events?” (with Marika Landau-Wells)

“Stumbling out of the Gates: Security Strategy and Military Weakness after Revolutionary Victory” (2023 ISA Annual Convention)

In Progress

“Abuses of power and popular protest in contemporary Africa” (with Aubrey Schipper)

“Military Behavior in Backsliding Democracies” (with Risa Brooks)

“Protest, press coverage, and policing in Chile: Media framing and the 2019-20 Estallido Social (with Miguelangel Coria-Cornejo)

“Researching Armed Groups Across Space and Time: Navigating Geography, Hierarchies, and Temporality During and After Conflict” (with Sean Ashley and Antonia Juelich)

Ethical and Responsible Research for Augmented Reality,” National Science Foundation Ethical and Responsible Research program grant (co-PI with Jennifer Jacobs and Tobias Höllerer, in collaboration with Ana Cárdenas Gasca and Emilia Yang)