See below for details of my published academic work
18.”Maintaining nonviolent self-discipline in hostile protest environments: Evidence from the 2019 Baghdad protests” (with Sam Whitt), Forthcoming, Social Movement Studies
17.”Legacies of Stalin or Putin? Public Opinion and Historical Memory in Ukraine” (with Sam Whitt and Vitaly Sklyarov), Forthcoming, Political Research Quarterly
16.”The Effect of Violence on Impulsivity: Evidence from the DR Congo,” (with Alex Imas and Michael Kuhn) Forthcoming, American Economic Journal: Microeconomics
15.“Inter-group Contact and Out-Group Altruism After Violence,” (with Sam Whitt and Rick Wilson), Forthcoming, Journal of Economic Psychology
14.“Conflict and Parochialism Among Combatants and Civilians: Evidence from Ukraine,” (with Sam Whitt), Forthcoming, Journal of Economic Psychology
13.”Due Process and Accountability Under Transitional Justice: Evidence from Mosul, Iraq” (with Sam Whitt), Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2022, Volume 66, Issue 9
12.”Public Tolerance of Retributive Violence Against Insurgencies” (with Sam Whitt), International Studies Quarterly, 2021, 65(2): 448460
11.”Rebel Group Attrition and Reversion to Violence: Micro-Level Evidence from Syria” (with Karam Alhamad and Sam Whitt), International Studies Quarterly 64.2 (2020): 285-294.
10.“Preferences for Violence in Civil War: Evidence from Syria,” (with Loubna Mrie and Sam Whitt), Forthcoming, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2020, 64(4): 614-639
9.“From the Maidan to the Military: Mobilizing Civilians for Counter-Insurgency in Eastern Ukraine,” (with Sam Whitt), Journal of Peace Research 57.3 (2020): 391-405.
8. “Who are the ISIS people?.” Perspectives on Terrorism 13.1 (2019): 32-39
7.“Risk Tolerance during Conflict: Evidence from Aleppo, Syria,” (with Loubna Mrie and Sam Whitt), Journal of Peace Research 56.6 (2019): 767-782. Supplementary Appendix
6.“Minority Status and Investment: Evidence from Natural and Lab Experiments in Bosnia and Herzegovina” (with Yegor Lazarev), World Development , Volume 106, June 2018, Pages 27-39
4.“International Peacekeeping and Micro-foundations for Positive Peace” (with Sam Whitt), 2015, Journal of Conflict Resolution
3.“Social Norms after Conflict Exposure and Victimization by Violence” (with Sam Whitt), 2016, British Journal of Political Science , pp. 1–17.
1.“Unintended media effects in a conflict environment: Serbian radio and Croatian nationalism” with Stefano DellaVigna, Ruben Enikolopov, Maria Petrova, and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, American Economic Journals: Applied Economics; 6(3): 103132; [Online Appendix]
7. “Can ISIS regroup? Lessons from interviews with ex-ISIS fighters”, NATO Review, August 9, 2018
6. “Adaptation and Innovation with an Urban Twist: Changes to Suicide Tactics in the Battle of Mosul,”(with Craig Whiteside) Military Review, Vol. 97, No. 6, 2017
5. “ISIS Prisons Where Labor Demand Meets Labor Supply,”(with Mohammed Hussein) CTX, Naval Postgraduate School, Volume 7/1, 2017
4. “CTC Prospectives. The Islamic State’s Drone Documents: Management, Acquisitions and DIY Tradecraft,”(with Don Rassler and Muhammad al-‘Ubaydi) Commissioned Policy Report, CTC West Point, 31 January 2017;
3. “Understanding the Changing Tactics of So-called Islamic State” NATO Review, April 15, 2016;
2. “The Motivations of Syrian Islamist Fighters” (with Sam Whitt and Loubna Mrie),CTC Sentinel, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Vol.7, No. 10 (Oct. 2014) pp.13-15
1. “A Glimpse into the Minds of Four Foreign Fighters in Syria” (with Sam Whitt), CTC Sentinel, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Vol.7, No. 6 (June 2014) pp.6-7
What should be done with insurgent youth, from adolescent fighters to very young children? Using original survey data, we examine public opinion regarding adolescent/child soldiers and young children in the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul Iraq. Focusing retrospectively, we inquire about retributive punishment for minors who fought and worked for the Islamic State relative to adults. We find that punishment preferences toward minors are conditional on their participation in violence, beliefs about the determinants of adulthood and the role of agency versus coercion in the recruitment process. Thinking prospectively, we find the public divided between fear about the dangers posed by radicalized children of insurgency and hope for rehabilitation and reintegration. Our results raise concerns about detrimental effects of retributive justice and social stigma on the well-being of insurgent youth and children both now and later into adulthood.
To what extent do publics hold gendered views of justice and accountability for political violence? We consider the compelling case of female supporters of the Islamic State in Mosul Iraq. Following the liberation of Mosul by Iraqi Armed Forces in 2017, thousands of women and their families were detained on suspicion of having supported the Islamic State, which ruled over Mosul between 2014-2017. However, under Iraqi law, women who supported ISIS, married ISIS fighters, and worked in administrative positions under ISIS are not held accountable in Iraqi criminal or counterterrorism courts. While a great deal of attention has been spent on bringing ISIS leaders and fighters to justice in Iraq, little attention has been paid to the role of women in the movement. In a December 2018 survey, we inquire about public perceptions of female accountability for supporting ISIS. We randomly sampled 400 Mosul residents on their views of rule of law and punishment preferences for female ISIS supporters. In contrast to prevailing patriarchal norms underlying Iraqi law, publics in Mosul see ISIS women as agents of their own free will, and consider them radical, dangerous, critical to the functioning of ISIS organization, and instrumental in supporting ISIS fighters. In contrast, they reject patriarchal explanations that women in ISIS were just showing obedience to their husbands and male leadership. In experimental survey vignettes, we also find that residents of Mosul mete out punishments to female ISIS supporters comparable to male counterparts, and do not distinguish strongly between those women who worked for ISIS and those who married ISIS fighters and leaders. Our findings run counter to prevailing patriarchal norms governing accountability under Iraqi law and conventional views on female agency and gendered norms of justice in the Middle East.
How tolerant are civilians of retributive violence against insurgents? We pose this question in the case of suspected Islamic State militants in Mosul Iraq. Using survey vignette experiments, we inquire about public tolerance for judicial as well as extrajudicial violence against insurgent combatants. We sample among ordinary civilians in Mosul who lived under Islamic State rule as well as ISIS-affiliated families in IDP camps outside Mosul. We find that Mosul civilians are more tolerant of capital punishment and extrajudicial killing of insurgent combatants than ISIS- affiliates, but more for reasons of security than revenge. In contrast, Mosul civilians are more likely to oppose the killing of insurgents if they believe such actions are counterproductive to long-term security goals. This tension speaks to the security dilemma surrounding retributive as well as strategic violence against insurgencies. Instead, the public interest may be better served through nonviolent strategies, to include negotiations with insurgent forces.
Non-Violent Collective Action in Hostile Environments: Evidence from Iraq (with Sam Whitt), Under Review
Successful non-violent collective action often requires an enduring commitment to self-discipline in response to repressive and provocative governmental tactics. We examine commitment to non-violent activism in the case of recent protests in Baghdad, Iraq. Based on a sample of over 300 activists from 2019 anti-government protests across different Baghdad locations, we find that more experienced protesters, proxied by the number of days of protest activity, show greater commitment to sustaining protests in the face of government intimidation and are less willing to reciprocate violence, even if they have witnessed or experienced violence at the hands of government forces, than less experienced protesters. We attribute this to a socialization effect within activist communities, which despite cross-cutting cleavages and divisions, help sustain protest commitment and non-violent self-discipline. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for the utility of civil resistance as an alternative to violence in conflict-prone environments.
Risk Tolerance During Violent and Non-violent Collective Action: Evidence from Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine (with Sam Whitt), Under Review
While both violent as well as non-violent collective action carry potential risks, the mechanisms driving risk tolerance are not well understood. In this study, we examine risk preferences among 300 participants in 2019-2020 non-violent anti-government protests in Baghdad, Iraq, which we compare to our prior work on risk tolerance among combatants from conflict zones in Syria and Ukraine. Based on responses to an Eckel-Grossman choice game, we find elevated that rational risk-taking is greater among non-violent protesters while irrational risk taking is greater within conflict environments. We propose that this divergence is due to competing strategic and psychological factors underlying risk taking, where the strategic logic of risk-taking predominates under non-violent collective action while psychological factors drive risk-taking during violence. Our findings have implications for the relative success of non-violent civil resistance compared to violence and for understanding the escalation process to increasingly high-risk, high cost forms of collective action.
A History of Violence: Field Evidence on Trauma, Discounting and Present Bias” (with Alex Imas and Michael Kuhn), Under Review
The extent to which an individual discounts the future and whether they discount in a time-consistent fashion is an important determinant of their life outcome. Using a novel study design in a field experiment in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we show that direct exposure to violence substantially increases present bias. We also demonstrate that providing individuals with a delay between information about the choice and the choice itself mitigates the differences in behavior between those who were exposed to violence and those who were not. Our findings suggest that enforcing a cooling off period between income notification and consumption opportunities may help generate more patient choices and mitigate the elevated impulsivity of individuals that have experienced violence. We measure our treatment effects both in reduced-form as well as in the form of structural estimates of a quasi-hyperbolic discounting function to enable comparison with measures of other types of time inconsistency and a welfare evaluation of the treatment effect. Our results have implications for policy aimed at alleviating the deleterious effects of present bias and the role of deliberation in the structure of commitment contracts.
Grievances and Role Differentiation in Civil War: Micro-Level Evidence from Syria (with Sam Whitt), Under Review
Recent macro-level studies have revived interest in grievance-based explanations for civil war participation. Using original survey data from the ongoing conflict in Syria, we examine whether fighters, civilians, and refugees can be distinguished based on a number of proxies for personal, sectarian, and regime-based grievances at the micro-level. Based on a well-balanced sample of over 300 active rebel fighters, civilians from within the conflict zone, and externally displaced refugees, we observe that some proxies for grievances are elevated among active combatants. Our results speak to the plausible role of grievances in differentiating combatants from non-combatants during civil war. We also evaluate a potential psychological mechanism where grievances drive individuals to discount risks of fighting out of a desire for agency and empowerment on one hand and anger, hatred, and revenge-seeking on the other, and we find some evidence in favor of both.
“The Challenge of Foreign Fighters: Repatriating and Prosecuting ISIS Detainees,” report for Middle East Institute, 27 January 2021
“Life inside Syrias al-Hol camp”, report for Middle East Institute, 9 July 2020
“What Foreign Islamic State Women Think About Guilt and Responsibility,” report for Lawfare, 19 August 2020
“Iraq’s Broken Justice System for Islamic State Fighters,” report for Lawfare, 25 July 2020
2019 Policy report based on results of survey of ISIS family members and ISIS victims in Mosul Rule of Law in Post ISIS Mosul
2019 Policy report based on results of a survey of ISIS family members of ISIS victims in Mosul Justice in Iraq
May 2019 Summary Statistics for Civilians in Mosul and Baghdad
December 2019 Summary Statistics for Peaceful Protesters in Baghdad
November 2014 Summary Statistics for Ex-Fighters in Turkey and Syria
August 2014 Summary Statistics for Islamists in Syria
April 2014 Summary Statistics for Ex-Fighters in Turkey
February 2014 Summary Statistics for Aleppo and Idlib