These are the students for whom I serve as the principal academic advisor and as dissertation chair for those who have completed candidacy requirements. We share broad interests in the comparative politics of violence and conflict, the politics of the construction of authority (“state-building,” conflict and post-conflict, including on the part of rebels) and international responses to conflict. Over the years, we have conducted joint field research in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Uganda, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan. These collaborations involve often lead to coordinated applications for external funding and, depending on coincidence of interests, to joint publications.
Sean Burns is interested in authoritarian regime types. He asks why there appears to be a relative absence of transformative (and revolutionary) social movements in many of these states. It appeared in the past that elites in “poor performing authoritarian states” would latch onto social movements and use these to reform state institutions. Or alterative elite groups would take to the hills and organize a peasant rebellion to overthrow not only the corrupt state, but also the whole social order. Looking at the world scene today, where have the ideologues gone? Will we only find them wearing Mutant Minja Turtle outfits, endlessly protesting in front of the World Bank’s headquarters? Are the appeals and prevalence of democratic governance so strong these days that such political dynamics are now impossible? What has happened to mass-based social movements of the past?
Chris Day “The Fates of Rebels: The Politics of Their Survival and Their Demise”
Chris Day studies the fates of rebels, particularly in the African context. His field research for his dissertation focuses on discovering what happens to the great majority of rebel groups that disappear or that governments “bribe” into submission, or that are beaten in the battlefield or that merge with other groups. An important few succeed in overthrowing governments. But rather than “selecting on the dependent variable” and just looking at those that succeed, he examines and explains the trajectories of this much wider array of rebels. Chris discovers how and why some rebels serve as tools in intra-elite and regional struggles, and why some manage to avoid this fate. After nine years of work with Medecins sans frontiers and other NGOs, he left the world of post-conflict reconstruction for the world of the formal study of conflict. He conducts his research in Uganda and Sudan, and in Sierra Leone and plans field research visits to South Asia. He has published results of his research in Comparative Politics. Chris is a winner of a United States Institute of Peace, Peace Scholar Dissertation Fellowship (2010-11) and a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant (2010), His web site is at www.daychristo.org.
Valerie Freeland investigates the (mostly) domestic politics of truth commissions and international tribunals and ICC referrals in a range of countries. She is especially interested in why some governments invite these foreign actors to infringe on their sovereignty. While it is clear that invitations intervene may signal that governments or factions within governments are recruiting powerful foreign allies, this does not appear to be true in all cases. Valerie finds instead that some governments use these invitations to create the impression that they are interested in conforming to international norms. Once “in a relationship” with foreign diplomats and others, these governments use these relationships to selectively violate other norms. Governments will play off the conflicting interests of these foreigners, proving that the weak are not always so weak. Her work also sheds light on the true nature of the international system, and the extent to which heterogeneity of units is concealed within the practices of regimes that cause other scholars to think that they see increasing homogenization. Valerie has won grant support for her research from the Kellogg School of Business’s Dispute Resolution Research Center.
Miklos Gosztonyi “The Resilience of Armed Conflict”
Miklos Gosztonyi is earning a dual degree (co-tutelle) us and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He analyses the structural causes for the continuation of armed conflict through much of the recent history of larger countries in Africa, with a particular focus on Sudan. He investigates relationships between groups in peripheral areas of the country with the political center. What is the basis of the durability of this system of politics, and what are the conditions that bring about its (possible) collapse? His research touches on questions of political control and authority in contexts where central governments cannot maintain formal administrations in distant and often socially diverse parts of their states. He conducts research in association with the Centre Français des Etudes Ethiopiennes in Addis Ababa.
Buddhika Jayamaha brings his interest in the micro-politics of conflict to our group. He investigates the mainsprings of organizational strategies and the behaviors of rebel groups and militias. His particular focus is on the ways that rebel (and militia) relations with other actors shape rebel (and militia) organization and behavior. He also addresses the degree to which these armed groups are products of their specific social environments. Some groups assiduously study these environments and then try to shape them, while others ct as though they are oblivious to the relationships and reactions around them. Why is this so, and what causes some groups to shift their approaches to these challenges? He earned his master’s degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Moses Khisa comes to our group from the Centre for Basic Research in Kampala. He holds a BA and an MA from Makerere University. He spent one year at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in
Calcutta to study major theoretical and philosophical issues in the social sciences. His current research interests focus on the politics of authoritarian regimes, and in particular, the bureaucratic and non- bureaucratic strategies that these regimes use to assert their authority. This focus raises questions about the relationship between institutions and political behavior. Is authoritarian regime behavior ultimately subject to the routines and norms of institutions, particularly when powerful outsiders insist on adherence to certain practices? How do authoritarian regimes manipulate relations with outsiders to craft their domestic exercise of authority in ways that stabilize (or undermine?) authoritarian rule?
Erin Kimball, “Strategic Causes of Collective Action: Regional Peacekeeping in Africa.”
Erin Kimball explores the shifting role and rationale for African countries’ growing participation in regional peacekeeping. She hypothesizes that regional cooperation among highly dependent, weak states is driven by the need to prove their legitimacy to international actors. She presents a series of hypotheses that she will test using statistical methods and fuzzy set analysis, and in-depth case studies of the Nigerian and Rwandan roles in the African mission in Sudan. If African countries engage in peacekeeping in order to gain international support and legitimacy, she posits, Western support of this increased humanitarian role in regional peacekeeping may inadvertently impact domestic civil-military relations, bolster policies of domestic authoritarianism, and exacerbate instability. Her research involves fieldwork in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Rwanda. She is a winner of a United States Institute of Peace, Peace Scholar Dissertation Fellowship.
Kendra Koivu, “Protection for Sale? A Comparative Historical Study of Organized Crime”
Kendra Koivu is writing a dissertation that explores the relationship between the structure of organized crime syndicates, markets, and state power. She finds that states with similar regulatory frameworks, similar degrees of state capacity and similar social structures end up with different kinds of criminal organizations. For example, one might think that Finland, a violent & pretty disorganized place back in the 1920s and 30s, should have had a lot of organized crime back then. But it did not. Japan, on the other hand, with a strong state & so forth should have a dearth of organized crime networks. But one doesn’t have to be a manga fan to know that organized crime is a presence. She conducts field research for this project in Finland, Turkey, Kosovo, Netherlands and Japan. She is a past winner of the university’s Weinberg Dissertation Year Fellowship.
Romain Malejacq “Seigneurs de Guerre et relations Internationales: Nouvelles significations et place sur l’echiquier international”
Romain Malejacq participates in the joint Northwestern – Sciences Po PhD program. He is jointly advised by Prof. Bertrand Badie. His research focuses on the strategies that Afghan “warlords” use to consolidate and legitimate their authority. He is particularly interested in how they conduct their own form of “international relations.” This development creates a situation in which foreign diplomats and military contingents must deal with these actors both as local authorities and in the international realm. To what extent does this violation of conventional norms of relations between sovereign states contribute to the goal of bolstering the sovereignty of Afghanistan? Or do these practices signal the advent of greater heterogeneity among states that accords greater recognition of the diversity of internal political arrangements and their circumstances? Looking more generally, to what extent does international intervention in Afghanistan (and the “international relations” of sub-state actors there) reinforce or subvert post-1945 ideas and practices of state sovereignty?
Khairunnisa Mohamedali “State-building, Solidarity Networks, Resource Extraction and the Communication of Authority”
Khairunnisa Mohamedali comes to Northwestern from the University of Toronto and from Carleton University. She is interested in how state authorities govern “hard to reach communities”. The prototype “hard to reach community” would include ethnically defined groups that play major roles in commerce, and that use strong networks of trust to organize their transactions and insulate them from the state. These communities resent “hard cases” in which one would expect that state officials would encounter maximum difficulties in extending bureaucratic regulatory control and in securing the allegiances of these communities. Khairunnisa finds that officials adopt hybrid approaches that make use of informal relationships and networks alongside bureaucratic strategies to assert political authority. Her findings lead her to more general propositions about the nature of state building to explain how and under what conditions states compromise with and integrate networks of trust and the impact of these strategies on political regimes. Her field research takes her to Uganda and Kenya.
Ayuko Nimura comes to our program from Georgetown, Emory and Columbia. She has conducted research in Senegal and Ghana for projects related to her interests in aspects of women’s participation in democratic processes in sub-Saharan Africa. She is interested in how institutional and cultural changes influence women’s decisions to become engaged in the public sphere. While she recognizes that institutional “rules of the game” count for a lot, she also finds that large shocks such as recent wars in West Africa, massive foreign intervention, the development of regional societal networks and so forth also influence women’s choices concerning their political engagement. Her work ultimately tests the limits of approaches that view political behavior largely as consequences of strategic choices on the basis of existing rules and looks further to how the dynamics of group behavior, changes in political cultures, and global norms affect women’s political behavior in West Africa. Ayuko Nimura is a winner of an APSA Global Perspectives on Politics and Gender workshop award (2010).
Maavi Norman comes to our program from McDaniel’s College. His work focuses on the problems of leadership in crisis situations. He is interested in how leaders and coalitions of elite groups manage reform, particularly when this involves giving greater political voice to groups that may directly or indirectly threaten the security of these regimes. This is a particular problem in sub-Saharan Africa, where scholars such as Robert Bates (in his When Things Fell Apart) identify threats to regime security as causes of decisions to forego reforms. But Maavi Norman notes that the African continent is populated with more regimes inclined toward reform, whether successfully executed or not, than deductive models based on purely rational calculations would suggest. He is investigating a wide variety of reformers, and seeks to identify the internal group and individual mechanisms that drive leadership decisions as actors face these considerable challenges. The field research component of this work focuses on Liberia and Senegal and will be expanded to other cases, including non-African ones.
Rachel Vanderpoel came to our program after having spent a year in Beni in eastern Congo, where she was based for a year as a teacher. She also has experience in Kenya, where she observed the politics of urban gangs and vigilante groups in Kenya. Her interests focus on the politics of rebel governance, and in particular, the ways that rebel groups attempt to render their authority as legitmate to local inhabitants. She is interested in the relationship between these efforts to exercise local authority and these groups’ relationships with central state authority (such as it is) in conflict and post-conflict situations.
Ariel Zellman comes to Northwestern after receiving a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia. He is interested in how and why irredentists exist at all. One would think that the abolition of conquest upon the end of the Second World War—one of the most effective norms shifts that one can imagine—would show would-be irredentists that theirs is a hopeless cause. Even more surprising is when irredentists lay claim to territories that actually contain very few members of the irredentists’ own community, which denies them even the comfort of claiming to fight for self-determination. Zellman conducts his research in Israel & the Occupied Territories, Serbia and Kosovo, and plans research visits to Armenia / Nagorno-Karabakh. His work is innovative in its investigation of the role of emotion in this politics. Moreover, he takes seriously the impact of community identity and grassroots organization, factors that are often in the background in other scholarly work but are in the foreground of the concerns of people in these places. Ariel keeps his research-related blog at: http://arielzellman.wordpress.com/.