Welcome! I am an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley.
My research addresses the ways in which international actors engage in weak and conflicted states. Weak states and states suffering civil conflict present serious challenges not only for the populations living within their borders, but also for international security and peace, since they can produce transnational threats. My work suggests that mechanisms not requiring forceful intervention may often be available to—and may sometimes be effectively employed by—international actors in these contexts.
My first project shows that, contrary to common wisdom, post-conflict elections with rebel party participation can provide an external enforcement mechanism for peace processes that does not require the threat or use of force. Monitoring backed by non-military conditional incentives—especially foreign aid—can thus help stabilize peace. My first book, Electing Peace: Credibly Transitioning from Civil Conflict to Political Participation, is on this topic. It is under contract. It is based on my dissertation research at Stanford University, which won the 2013 Helen Dwight Reid award from the American Political Science Association for the best dissertation successfully defended in the past two years in international relations, law, and politics. A set of related papers is also listed in Research.
My second project shows that, even during active conflict, combatants and interveners use a broad mix of armed and unarmed mechanisms, producing varying levels of popular support. Finally, my third project contributes a new understanding of how international actors engage in policing and judicial sectors at the invitation of weak states—and identifies constraints on their effectiveness in these contexts. The pieces of these projects, published and in the pipeline, are described in Research.
In each of these three projects, I use multiple methods to study these important questions. I collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data, including, working with co-authors, four survey experiments (two in Colombia, one in Guatemala, and one in Mexico) and one field experiment (Côte d’Ivoire). My research has been supported by the NSF, Minerva, the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, and the Center for Global Development.
Overall, my research suggests that non-military and small consent-based missions can have positive effects on peace and some aspects of statebuilding, although they also face limitations, particularly when it comes to changing institutions. This work has implications for our current understanding of international relations. It shows how major powers, often acting through international institutions, can contribute to solving domestic political problems. It develops ideas on global governance in the context of civil conflict, positing that non-state actors in faltering states may be able to commit to comply with settlements and other institutional rules due to enforcement by international actors using non-military incentives. It also, however, draws in systemic considerations and power dynamics to understand the constraints on international actor involvement. In doing so, it brings domestic politics more centrally into our understanding of these international processes, and vice versa. In addition, this research has clear policy implications, as it identifies ways in which the international community can assist at minimal cost to itself in weak and conflicted states, and with what constraints.
I teach on civil conflict, international intervention, and state-building, as well as the research process, as described in Teaching.
I was a W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow and the Arch W. Shaw National Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University (2015-2016), a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC) at the University of California, San Diego (2012-2013), and a predoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) (2010-2012). I received my Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University in September 2012. Before coming to Stanford, I was employed by the RAND Corporation. I received an undergraduate degree magna cum laude in Social Studies from Harvard University, while working with the Belfer Center’s Managing the Atom Project and with the Los Alamos National Laboratory. I was born and raised in New Mexico, so I never turn down spicy food or pass up a good soccer game.