Focusing on political violence, my research explores how states respond to opposition within their borders, the dynamics of violence in self-determination struggles, post-war state-building and wartime legacies, and geopolitical orientations in Russia’s near abroad. I make use of multiple methods—large-n cross-case analyses, surveys, and fieldwork-based case studies—and collaborate with colleagues from different disciplines.
My book Decentralization and Intrastate Struggles: Chechnya, Punjab, and Québec was published by Cambridge University Press in 2015 and received the Conflict Research Society’s Book of the Year Award. My work has also been published in journals such as International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Perspectives on Politics, Political Geography, and World Politics.
States’ Responses to Opposition
Decentralization and Intrastate Struggles: Chechnya, Punjab, and Québec explores decentralized states’ diverse capacity to contain self-determination struggles. The book combines statistical analyses of intrastate conflicts across decentralized states with case studies of Chechnya’s relationship to Moscow, Punjab’s relationship to Delhi, and Québec’s relationship to Ottawa. With support from the National Science Foundation (US) and the Chr. Michelsen Institute (Norway), I conducted fieldwork in Russia, India, and Canada.
In a project with Neil Mitchell and Hannah Smidt, we turn to how states interact with civil society, examining when, why, and how governments restrict civil society organizations—and with what consequences for these organizations’ ability to monitor governments. The data collection was funded by the British Academy. Fore more on the project, including data, see here.
I further explore states’ responses to opposition movements in a collaborative project (2018-2021) that examines how states—and, in particular, the actors that make up the security apparatus of the state—interact with civil society both during and after periods of revolutionary change. The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council, and my co-PIs are Pavel Baev, Marianne Dahl, Scott Gates, and Håvard Mokleiv Nygård.
Dynamics of Violence
Much of my research has focused on the internal dynamics of self-determination movements. In collaboration with Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham and Lee J.M. Seymour, I have examined how fragmentation of self-determination movements affect violent conflict both within these groups and between these groups and the governments they are fighting (see my TEDx talk).
Intra-movement dynamics are also shaped from the outside. Based on case studies of the Chechen wars, I have examined the processes through which foreign fighters affect the organization of domestic rebels and their ability to cohesively fight the state.
Post-War State-Building and Wartime Legacies
My recent work has focused on post-war state-building, the legacies of wartime violence and governance, and public opinion. In “Attitudes for Peace,” a project in collaboration with Karin Dyrstad, Helga Malmin Binningsbø, and Arne Henning Eide, we have conducted public opinion surveys in Guatemala, Nepal, and Northern Ireland, with the aim of analyzing people’s attitudes to peace agreements (funded by the Norwegian Research Council). In work with Kit Rickard, I examine how legacies of wartime governance shape vigilante violence in Northern Ireland today, drawing on survey data, geo-located data on violence, as well as fieldwork.
Focusing in particular on the de facto states in the post-Soviet world—Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Transdniestria—I have investigated people’s perceptions of post-war governance and legitimacy. This work has been done in collaboration with Andrew Linke, John O’Loughlin, Gerard Toal, and Mike Ward.
In a large interdisciplinary project with John O’Loughlin and Gerard Toal (funded jointly by the Economic and Social Research Council, UK, and the National Science Foundation, US, for 2018-2021), we explore the geopolitical orientations of the populations in both the states and de facto states that make up Russia’s “near abroad.” We are conducting two rounds of public opinion surveys in 13 sites, the first round in autumn 2019.