You can find abstracts from and links to my publications, projects under review or in revision, and working papers below. Please visit my book page for information about my book, Governing for Revolution.
Comparative Political Studies [with Karin Kitchens]
Abstract: How do political actors create and institutionalize revolutionary social transformation, and what are the consequences of their efforts? In this paper, we provide a framework for understanding the conditions under which revolutionary social transformation unfolds and becomes institutionalized over time. We argue that a direct consequence of social transformation and the institutionalization thereof, however, is violence against the revolution’s beneficiaries which can likewise endure over the long-term. We test our arguments using historical, county-level data on post-U.S. Civil War Reconstruction and we supply both quantitative and qualitative evidence for our mechanisms. We ultimately demonstrate that social transformation and violence are often causally linked, not mutually exclusive outcomes, thereby expanding our understanding of how social orders are created and maintained.
Forthcoming at Journal of Conflict Resolution. [with Justin Conrad and Liana Reyes-Reardon]
Abstract: What is the relationship between natural resources and rebel governance? Previous studies have argued that resource rich groups have fewer incentives to provide social services. We argue, however, that even well-funded rebels may have incentives to provide some social services to civilians. Specifically, rebel groups profiting from the extraction of natural resources should be more likely to offer health care services as a means of ensuring a dependable civilian workforce than groups who do not profit from natural resources. Using data on both the extraction of natural resources and social service provision by rebel groups, we find strong empirical evidence to support our argument. We conclude with implications for scholars and policymakers.
Abstract: What explains variation in the institutional arrangements rebels create to engage captive civilian populations? Rebel-controlled territories host a diversity of political institutions ranging from structures designed to promote democratic decision-making to martial law. Although previous research has focused on rebel social service provision and other aspects of rebel governance, few have investigated variation in the institutional arrangements rebels adopt. In this paper, we identify a set of dimensions along which rebel political institutions vary leading to six ideal-typical forms of political arrangements. We argue that an iterative and dynamic stepwise process, determined by rebel group strategies and local conditions, produces one of these political institutional outcomes. Importantly, the type of rebel political institutions within one location may change throughout the war, and variation may emerge even across territories the same rebel group controls. We demonstrate the plausibility of our arguments through a series of illustrative case studies that correspond to the formation processes of our six ideal-typical political arrangements. We conclude with recommendations for future research.
Journal of Conflict Resolution [with Dani Nedal and Michael Weintraub].
Abstract: The explosion of cities and megacities has increased scholars' and policy-markers' attention to the effects such changes might have on conflict; the increasing urban environment has been linked to a shift in the nature of warfare, but not necessarily to the propensity of intrastate war itself. In this paper we argue that high levels of urban concentration -- the concentration of populations in one or relatively few urban centers -- increases the both the likelihood of civil war and the intensity of such conflicts, for a number of reasons. Urban concentration limits the ability of the state to project power across space, exacerbating grievances in rural areas, allowing rebels to more easily control territory and enhance their military strength. At the same time, cities become high-value loci of contestation: rebels need only capture one or a few cities to be victorious, while states must be sure to protect urban centers. Yet, urban warfare reduces and constrains conventional state military strength. What results is more symmetrical fighting that produces greater battle deaths. This paper indicates that urban concentration exerts a crucial influence on the likelihood and nature and intensity of intrastate warfare.
Conflict Management and Peace Science.
Abstract: What is the effect of rebel governance on rebel military strength? Most existing research assumes that rebel governance enhances the military strength of the rebel group. I test this assumption with an original dataset of rebel governance services. The quantitative evidence present a more complicated picture that belies a straightforward link between the two: governance appears to have either no relationship with rebel strength, or a negative and statistically significant relationship with rebel military capacity. To explain this surprising result, I generate a set of empirically grounded mechanisms using case vignettes that incorporate primary and secondary qualitative data. As a whole, the paper calls for greater theorizing and testing about the consequences of rebel governance, as well as the strategic motivations for its implementation.
Research and Politics. [with D.J. Flynn]
Abstract: How do international audiences evaluate the legitimacy of secessionist insurgencies? Although secessionists often propagate their behavioral choices, such as state-building and non-violence, to international audiences in the hopes of generating support, scholars know little about the effects of this information. In this article, we use survey experiments in the United States and United Kingdom to examine how international audiences respond to two of the most commonly used strategies of secession: civilian killings and social service provision. We find that international audiences view secessionists who avoid civilian killings and provide social services as more legitimate than secessionists who kill civilians and do not provide services, respectively. Further, we show that service provision can allow secessionists to reduce --- and, in some cases, eliminate --- the public costs of civilian killings. These findings have important implications for ongoing secessionist conflicts across the globe.
Abstract: Why do rebel groups provide public goods? Some insurgencies divert critical financial and personnel resources to provide benefits to a population, that includes non-supporters (e.g. Karen National Union, Hezbollah, Eritrean People’s Liberation Front). Other groups offer no services or limit their service provision to only those people who actively support, or are likely to support, the insurgency. The existing literature examines why some insurgencies provide selective incentives for members to join and how insurgencies use social services to recruit members, yet no research addresses why insurgencies provide public goods. I argue that insurgent public goods provision is a strategic tool secessionist insurgents use to achieve their long-term strategic goal of independence. With new and original data, I use a large-n analysis to test this hypothesis. The results of the analysis support the theory, underscoring the importance insurgent non-violent behavior and addressing key issues such as sovereignty and governance.
*Paper awarded honorable mention by APSA's Conflict Processes Section, 2016
*Read coverage on this work in the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog
Journal of Politics.* [with Yu-Ming Liou].
Abstract: What is the effect of the location of rebel-held territory on civilian casualties? We argue that insurgencies with domestic territorial are strongly incentivized to cultivate mutually beneficial relations with civilians living in their territory and limit their violence against them, while insurgencies with foreign territorial control lack these behavioral constraints and may victimize civilians to gain compliance and extract resources. We test this hypothesis in two ways: a quantitative analysis of all insurgencies from 1989-2003 followed by a multi-methods case study that leverages the exogenous acquisition of foreign territory by the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) after the 1991 establishment of the northern Iraq No-Fly Zone. Our results strongly support our hypothesis. These findings shed light on potential broader patterns of civilian victimization by insurgents, and the conditions under which insurgents may strive to limit civilian casualties and provide governance.
Conflict Management and Peace Science.* [with Desha M. Girod and Meir Walters].
Abstract: Why are some dictators more successful at demobilizing protest movements than others? Repression sometimes stamps out protest movements (Bahrain in 2011) but can also cause a backlash (Egypt and Tunisia in 2011), sometimes leading to the overthrow of the regime. This article argues that the effectiveness of repression in quelling protests varies depending upon the income sources of the authoritarian regime. Resource-rich autocracies are relatively shielded from domestic and international criticism. They therefore have a greater capacity to quell protests through force. Because resource-poor dictators lack such shielding, repression is more likely to trigger a backlash of increased protests. The argument is supported by analysis of newly available data on mass protests from the Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcomes (NAVCO 2.0) dataset, which covers all countries (1945-2006). The article implies that publics respond strategically to repression, and tend to demobilize when the government is capable of continually employing repression with impunity.
"Explaining Variation in Challenges to Social Conventions: Black Political Leadership and 'Contraband Camps' in the U.S. Civil War" [with Karin Kitchens]. Revise and Resubmit.
Abstract: What explains variation in the extent to which out-group individuals participate in behaviors that challenge existing social orders in ways that fall short of outright contentious politics? In addition to existing explanations that point to technological exposure, institutional change, or leadership attributes, we present a new and complementary explanation. We argue that more significant limitations on a dominant group's ability to police access to informal and formal institutions of power or to regulate participation in privileged activities in a given location cause higher rates of persistent out-group actions that challenge existing social orders. We test our argument using the creation of "contraband camps" during the U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction-era Black political leadership. These camps significantly limited whites' power and control locally, while Black political leadership breached social conventions at the time. Using quantitative analyses that draws on original data collection, we find that relative to counties without such camps, counties with the camps had almost twice as many Black political leaders. Our results shed light on an under-studied phenomenon in the U.S. Civil War while also contributing to research on social change.
Abstract: Leftist, national liberation rebel groups were among the most consequential and successful rebel groups to emerge during the Cold War. Why did the leaders of these groups adopt this specific set of ideologies and goals, as opposed to other possible combinations of ideologies and goals? I argue that certain global-structural features unique to the late-19th through mid-20th centuries in combination with colonial elites' participation in assimilatory education programs and their confrontations with formal and informal imperial exclusionary policies jointly made more probable the formation of a cohesive, would-be rebel leadership group committed to national liberatory goals and leftist ideas. Once this group returned to their colonized countries, they were better able to organize and contest the state relative to other groups or individuals. Individuals without these experiences were less likely to form a rebel group with a leftist ideology and national liberatory goals, specifically. I use variation in educational experiences of rebel leaders in Eritrea’s Independence War to qualitatively test mechanisms using archival and primary materials. A quantitative analysis using biographical data of Eritrean leaders produces results consistent with expectations. Further applicability is probed with a global sample of civil wars and out-of-sample case studies that include archival data from three countries.
Abstract: Social revolutions are typically defined as a transformation of the social order and are among the most important world-historical events. Despite their importance, existing research often follows a set of implicit or explicit conventions in the definition and measure thereof that produce conceptual and empirical challenges to the study of social revolution. To correct these issues, I present a new framework for studying social revolution. If social revolutions are a transformation of the social order, the framework proposed here advocates shifting the unit of analysis from social revolutions as a whole to the programs and projects political actors use to achieve a transformation of the social order (e.g., land reform, emancipation, expanding access to political institutions, etc.). I call these programs and projects: "revolutionary repertoires." The revolutionary repertoires approach addresses analytic issues that arise in works on social revolution, enables scholars to refine existing research questions, and offers several avenues for future work.