CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

Aiding and Abetting: U.S. Foreign Aid and Political Violence
(Book Under Review)

The conventional view of foreign aid is that at its best foreign aid helps lift people from poverty and, at its worst, foreign aid is simply wasted. This book challenges the longstanding notion that aid does no harm by providing a wide range of evidence demonstrating that foreign aid can have deadly consequences. Drawing on statistical analysis and country case studies, the author identifies two pathways – a capacity-building and an income effect – for the coercive effect of foreign aid and illustrates how aid led to violent outcomes in recipient countries. U.S. policymakers did not simply turn a blind eye to human rights violations; rather, the author demonstrates that members of the U.S. government intentionally manipulated foreign aid to achieve their policy objectives in the face of overwhelming evidence of abuses. Furthermore, the author provides evidence that coercive effect of foreign aid has endured well beyond the end of the Cold War. The book closes with an assessment of the future of U.S. foreign aid policy and suggestions for reform.


Why She Fights: Women, Ideology and RebellionInsurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars 
(Georgetown University Press, Spring 2019)
This book addresses this gap by exploring women’s contributions to warfare through three important contemporary case studies: female Kurdish fighters in the Middle East, female participants in militias and rebel groups on both sides of the conflict in Ukraine, and women’s roles in the FARC and the peace process in Colombia. Through these cases, we highlight commonalities and differences in women’s participation and roles in a wide range of armed groups. We ask questions focused on three distinct areas: recruitment into armed groups, individual-level factors motivating participation, and roles within armed groups. Why are women recruited into state and non-state militaries to begin with? What characteristics make militant groups more likely to recruit women? Does personal experience play a particularly important role for women as compared with male fighters? What about the importance of ideology for individual fighters? Do women’s roles change over time within organizations and/or conflicts? How does women’s participation vary across these cases, and why? The primary aim of this book is to identify areas where women’s participation plays an important role in sustaining armed conflict. We also address the roles of women in peace processes and the needs of female combatants in post-conflict demobilization programs.



Development-Led Countering Violent Extremism
Since the early 2000s, the United States has engaged in a development-driven CVE program aimed at decreasing the likelihood of radicalization and recruitment by altering job market opportunities, promoting civic engagement and using informational strategies. This strategy is premised on the belief that structural inequalities and individual-level motivations for radicalization and recruitment can be mitigated through traditional development activities like improved rule of law, vocational and technical training, and employment support. Have these strategies had a discernable impact on the mobilization of violent extremist organizations? What progress has been made since the adoption of the 2011 USAID policy on “The Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency”? Through a meta-analysis of existing research (including that of USAID and its implementing partners), interviews with key actors involved in US-funded CVE programs and experts on CVE, this project assesses where US-led CVE interventions abroad have succeeded and where they have fallen short.



Ethnic Violence and Nation-Building in Malaysia
"Policing Young Minds: Education and Security Policy in British Southeast Asia"
States have long been mistrustful of sizeable minority populations, particular those with links to an external patron or home state. This has bred an extensive literature on the use of state coercion against minority groups and groups’ respective use of political violence. Less attention has been devoted to the question of how states may respond to changes in perceived threats through non-coercive institutions. This article examines the relationship between perceived security threats and shifts in British education policy in the Empire’s Southeast Asian colonies. I argue that the perceived threat of China-driven mobilization amongst overseas (huaqiao) Chinese evolved over the course of five decades from an external one based on developments in mainland China to an internal threat to British colonial holdings. As a result, colonial education policy shifted from the indirect administration of Chinese schools to more direct methods of control. Evidence from the British colonies of Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore demonstrates that although concerns about local Chinese mobilization against the Empire were not unique, the timing and success of British education policy changes were deeply influenced by local conditions, including the relative size of the minority group and the strength of organized opposition to British reforms.