My current research focuses on human rights, political violence, and foreign policy. Below, you can find some basic information about my ongoing research projects.
External Threat and Human Rights: How International Conflict Leads to Domestic Repression (forthcoming at Journal of Human Rights, winter 2020)
When does interstate conflict lead to repression in warring countries? A long-held maxim in the human right literature is that governments repress when they feel threatened. International conflict would seem to threaten governments, yet recent literature has either ignored interstate conflict or found that international conflict has no effect on respect for human rights. In this paper I examine how interstate conflict leads to domestic human rights violations by governments. Governments often attempt to increase their hold on political power by violating human rights when facing external threats. Using a measure that incorporates information about the tangible costs of fighting, the location of conflicts, and the probability of defeat, I find that threatening international conflict has an immediate deleterious effect on respect for physical integrity rights and some civil rights.
The Most Important Problems Dataset (MIPD): Asked since 1939, tracking results from the “most important problem” (MIP) question reveals shifting public concerns over time, as the United States grappled with crises from recessions to war to natural disasters. My coauthors and I have collected and aggregated responses to the MIP question to create a powerful new public opinion dataset that can be used to track issue importance over time. This dataset includes demographic information, responses to economic evaluation questions, presidential approval, political preference information, and party competency questions that allow researchers to determine the correlates of the MIP at the individual and group levels. This dataset is available here.
Foreign Policy During Intrastate and Extrastate Conflict: Patterns of Support, Retaliation, and Opportunism
Abstract: External support for violent groups in other countries has become an increasingly popular instrument of foreign policy over the last seventy years. A central component of my dissertation asks why states favor the provision of certain resources (e.g.~territorial access, troop support, military training) over others. In addition, I examine how the provision of weapons and external arms control efforts (arms embargoes) affects civilian victimization and civil war intensity. This project focuses on understanding how foreign arms fuel internal conflicts and asks whether the international community can do anything to improve human security by denying arms to combatants. In all of this work I combine an emphasis on security and conflict issues between states with a focus on the importance of violent sub-state actors.