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.
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 shadow case studies to test generalizability in a diverse range of cases. 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.
“Levels of Analysis and Theories of Violence in Civil Wars: Ideology and Contestation in Nicaragua”
“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)
“Threat Perception, Security Strategy, and Military Effectiveness after Revolutionary Victory” (2019 ISA Annual Convention)