Aila Matanock, Professor

Open (1) Conflict, Crime, and Intervention

Open. Apprentices needed for the spring semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before February 5th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning January 9th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 AM.

This research project examines civil conflict and related crime, how and why foreign intervention occurs by domestic invitation, as well as to what effect these invited interventions have on the rule of law.

Intervention by invitation is increasingly used by intergovernmental organizations pooling resources to deal with transnational concerns. The treaties that enact these agreements are an understudied innovation in stabilizing weak countries.

This research project will examine when and why governance delegation agreements occur empirically, as well as what effects they have. We will also be doing some focused work on the causes and consequences of such an intervention by the U.N. in Guatemala (CICIG), collecting both qualitative and quantitative data, and on the peace process in Colombia.


Research assistants will be asked to work on these projects, including specific tasks such as: (1) compiling and cleaning data using simple rules on Guatemalan court cases and crime rates in municipalities, (2) reading, translating, and summarizing notes on CICIG, (3) providing support on the policing project, (4) gathering and processing information available on the internet or in government documents, (5) otherwise participating in these research projects.

Students will learn how to conduct social science research. Regular research meetings will discuss how to formulate hypotheses, operationalize variables, collect data, and empirically test theories.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Natalia Garbiras-Díaz, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Applicants should have an interest in conflict and international intervention, as well as more broadly in research. At least one Spanish speaker is sought. Knowledge of statistical packages and related (e.g., Excel, Stata, R, and others) is helpful but not necessary. Attendance at regular one-hour meetings is required.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Open (2) Making Migrations: The Strategic Use of Population Displacement in Civil Conflicts

Open. Apprentices needed for the spring semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before February 5th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning January 9th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 AM.

The number of people forcibly displaced by conflict and violence worldwide has swelled to 65 million, the highest recorded since World War II. While we typically think of population displacement as an unintentional consequence of war, previous research shows that it is often a deliberate strategy pursued by armed groups. Despite these insights, we know little about where, when, and why such tactics are used. This research project is the first study to systematically analyze displacement as a tool of armed conflict. We will collect new data from the post-Cold War period, develop fresh conceptual and theoretical insights, and use multiple approaches to examine the conditions under which armed groups intentionally uproot civilian populations in wartime. As ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and elsewhere continue to produce overwhelming numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, this timely research will aid policy efforts to mitigate and better respond to these crises.

(Note: this work is on Adam Lichtenheld's project.)

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Adam Lichtenheld, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Research assistants will be asked to: (1) compile data on forced displacement, patterns of violence, and other political-military dynamics in post-Cold War civil wars, and (2) write brief case studies and memos detailing evidence of armed groups deliberately displacing civilian populations. Students will be asked to collect data from a variety of sources, including international human rights reports, the news, and existing datasets, to create a new dataset. Students may also have some opportunities to conduct quantitative analysis if they are interested. Students will learn how to conduct social science research. Regular research meetings will discuss how to formulate hypotheses, collect data, and empirically test theories. Qualifications: Applicants should have an interest in conflict, displacement, and social science research more broadly. Some coursework in political science, particularly international relations and comparative politics, is preferred. Completion of PS3 or other quantitative courses is preferred but not necessary. Ability to work independently and remotely is a must. Attendance at regular check-ins via Skype is required, as the lead researcher will often be off-campus.

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs

Open (3) Program on Security Institutions and Violent Instability (Constitutional Legal Frameworks)

Open. Apprentices needed for the spring semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before February 5th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning January 9th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 AM.

(This is one of three pieces of a collaborative project between Professors Arriola, Matanock, and Mattes.) Countries around the world are increasingly confronting violent irregular threats such as insurgencies and terrorism. Yet, many countries have proven unable to effectively deploy their security institutions (including regular militaries, paramilitaries, and police) when responding to such threats even if they have sufficient resources at their disposal. For example, while resource-poor Ethiopia has managed to mobilize its forces to successfully prevent most attacks within its borders by Al-Shabaab, the Somali jihadist terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, oil-rich Nigeria has repeatedly failed to coordinate its forces in preventing further attacks from a comparable threat, Boko Haram, the Islamist group linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Our project, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, is designed to explain why some states’ security institutions are more effective than others. To shed light on this question we will collect a dataset on the design of domestic security institutions across 102 developing countries and conduct detailed comparative case studies on six paired countries: Colombia and Mexico; Ethiopia and Nigeria; and Myanmar and the Philippines.

This part of the project will be focused on assessing how the institutions in various countries fit together. We will be examining constitutions from countries around the world to understand what the legal framework for the security institutions, answering questions such as whether the military is allowed to respond to domestic terrorist and insurgency, how the police are structured, and whether there are coordinating bodies. The laws underpinning the security institutions are, of course, a crucial set of variables for this project.

Undergraduate research apprentices will contribute to the project in the following ways:
1) Using primary documents, specifically constitutions, they will gather detailed information on the legal frameworks establishing and governing the security institutions. They will be assigned countries around the world, based on their interests and the project needs. (The vast majority of these constitutions are in English, but a few are only available in French or Spanish, so please note language skills in your application – see below.)
2) Working as a team, they will also be helping to check and refine our understanding of these legal frameworks.

The apprenticeship is designed to expose undergraduate students to how rigorous social science research is done. Undergraduate research assistants will learn about how to collect and process data that can then be used for statistical analysis and how to conduct detailed comparative case studies. Substantively, undergraduate research assistants will learn more about the variation that exists in countries’ domestic security institutions and how this might explain why some countries are better at fighting violent threats than others.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Melanie Thompson, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: These tasks will entail careful research, good communication, and good writing skills for short summaries. Spanish or French skills are useful but not at all necessary (please note if you speak either language in your application).

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs