Research Focus

I focus on issues of corruption, conflict, and collective action in Sub-Saharan Africa. I look specifically at the ways that corruption drives contentious political action and violence, ranging from social movement activity to terrorism. I also write on the theoretical nature of corruption, and am working on a comparative construction of corruption.

Additionally, I work on research concerning the role that grievances play in driving conflict and contentious politics. In particular, I am focusing on the relationship between political corruption and the development of grievances, as well as working on a quantitative approach to measuring grievances.

Current Research

  • The intersection of pervasive political corruption and contentious political action
  • The role of identity politics in perceptions and reactions to corruption
  • Developing a comparative construction/theory of corruption
  • Corruption as a mobilizing grievance

Research Methods

In seeking to answer empirical questions, I gravitate toward two main methodological approaches:

  1. Geospatial analysis, which allows me to visualize and model the spatial impact of social incidents on one another, as well as to derive a stronger understanding of how geography drives political outcomes.
  2. Experimental analysis, which I find to be useful in deriving and testing initial suppositions about behaviors in response to certain stimuli. I see experiments as a crucial first step in testing whether we are asking the right questions.

Many scholars define themselves, at least in part, by their preferred methodological approach. To my mind, this approach limits us unnecessarily. While I do specialize, I keep an open mind about many methods, ranging from ethnographic interviews and immersion to rational choice modeling.

Research Appointments

  1. Center for Open Data Enterprise (2018 – current)
  2. Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (2015 – 2017)
  3. Uppsala University, One-Sided Violence Project (2015)
  4. University of Maryland w/ Mark Lichbach & Paul Huth (2013 – 2016)