Some other projects/ideas I am working on that are in the early stages:
Researching civil wars: Aligning theory, methods, and evidence
Paper presented at the ECPR General Conference, August 2018
Abstract: The paper shows how qualitative research in general, and process-tracing combined with fieldwork in particular, can contribute to civil war research by bringing theory, methods and evidence into alignment. It outlines the assumptions and methodological implications of mechanism-based approaches that use the theory and process-tracing practice of causal mechanisms, and then shows how, in combination with a serious commitment to fieldwork, this approach can advance the study of civil wars. Researchers need to: (1) be more innovative with concept formation and ‘casing’ (and, by extension, with research designs) to capture the processual character of conflict dynamics and guide data collection, especially regarding the spatiotemporal scope of cases; (2) theorise causal mechanisms that demonstrate ‘productive continuity’ in generating outcomes, and specify their observable implications and evidentiary signatures for testing; (3) redouble and refine data generation efforts in conflict-affected areas – that is, expend more ‘shoe leather’ in pursuit of good theories and empirical evidence. The benefits of this effort can be maximised by exploiting the advantages associated with fieldwork, not only for generating process-tracing evidence and acquiring deep, context-specific knowledge, but also as a means of improving a researcher’s ability to evaluate evidence, discriminate between competing explanations, and manage the iterative back and forth between theory and evidence. The paper concludes by discussing how to effectively and feasibly evaluate process-tracing evidence, i.e., how to judge the weight, utility, and admissibility of evidence, and the ethics of collecting and using it, in the context of studying violent conflict.
Internal wars and international relations: How does political violence shape international politics from the inside-out?
Paper presented at ISA Annual Convention, March 2019
Abstract: How do internal wars affect international relations? Political violence in civil wars is highly localised; while scholars have identified important connections between on-the-ground manifestations of armed conflict and the high politics of IR and international security, these links remain under-theorised. Most attention has been on influences from the ‘outside-in’ but civil war studies have looked less at influences from the ‘inside-out’, neglecting how dynamics of internal armed conflicts influence international politics, and how war outcomes/post-war settlements shape the international system. The paper explores theoretical developments and empirical insights that may be generated from this approach. The paper has two purposes. First, it is a stock-taking exercise, reflecting on research on the international dimensions of internal war and the nature of the relationship between internal war and international relations. Second, based on these reflections, it tries to lay the groundwork for future research agendas that build on the works discussed. My intended audience is civil war scholars, for whom I have proposals on where their research agenda could go next in their exploration of the international dimensions on internal war, and International Relations scholars, for whom I have proposals on how their research agenda can be informed by scholarship on internal war.