Completed Dissertations

Threat, Risk, and Repression: Exploring Political Violence from a Prospect Theory Approach

Jessica Brandwein

Political Science & Peace Studies

What are the causes and consequences of state-sponsored political violence against civilians and how can international actors limit such violence? This dissertation takes a prospect theory approach to understanding these questions, diverging from the typical expected-utility framework presented in the existing literature. The primary argument is that governments decide to perpetrate violence against their citizens based on whether that government is operating from a domain of gain or a domain of loss. The result is that distinct governments will respond to similar types of threats with different levels of violence depending on their domain. This dissertation consists of an introduction and three papers which use quantitative methods to study several aspects of this argument. Paper 1 explores the causes of state repression, arguing that a government’s domain influences how it frames threats and the level of risk it will accept to eliminate those threats. A statistical analysis of government responses to dissent among African countries supports this argument, showing that governments in the domain of loss repress low levels of dissent at higher rates than governments in the domain of gain. Paper 2 considers the effects of government violence, examining how the killing of civilians in intrastate conflict influences its outcome. This paper argues that a government’s domain shapes its use of civilian victimization, which in turn affects the conflict’s outcome. A global study of intrastate conflicts finds that the patterns of violence perpetrated by governments in the domain of loss are more likely to lead to rebel-preferred outcomes, while those used by governments in the domain of gain increase the probability of a government-preferred outcome. Paper 3 looks at how international actors influence the use of state repression, proposing that the effect of interventions on the use of state-sponsored violence is conditioned on government domain. Quantitative testing provides some limited support for this theory. In combination, these papers suggest that utilizing a prospect theory framework can improve our understanding of state-sponsored political violence.

Civil Resistance and the Processes of Contentious Politics in Egypt, 2010-2015

Matthew J. Chandler

Sociology & Peace Studies

Egyptian pro-democracy activists mobilized two major uprisings in recent years: one ending Hosni Mubarak’s decades-long rule in February 2011, and the other precipitating a coup against newly-elected president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Prior research indicates that nonviolent campaigns succeed more often and are more likely to result in democracy than armed insurgencies. The theory, in essence, is that nonviolent campaigns better facilitate popular participation, which simultaneously serves to mobilize more potent campaigns and encourage democratic governance. But that explanation is inadequate when civil resistance has mixed outcomes, as in the case of Egypt. Therefore, this dissertation shifts the analytical perspective to the processes of contentious political transitions in which civil resistance campaigns are embedded. It focuses on the years 2010 through 2015 in Egypt, using the two major uprisings as a paired comparison to develop the theorized linkage between civil resistance and democratization. It finds that civil resistance in Egypt operated through multiple mechanisms that interacted dynamically over time and were sensitive to changes in the wider structure of political relations.

A Long Road to Canaan: Capuchin Missionaries and the Delegates of the Word in Nicaragua’s Long Sixties

Ryne Clos

History & Peace Studies

My dissertation examines the methods of U.S. Catholic missionaries in eastern Nicaragua and their changes over time. The Capuchin priests and Sisters of St. Agnes nuns arrived from the U.S. Midwest in 1939 with a particular conception of Church and mission that guided their activities in Nicaragua for more than 25 years. In the middle of the 1960s, the Capuchins decided that they, too, should change the way they carried out their mission. Historians have started to call this period from 1959-1974 the Long Sixties, defining it as a discrete period characterized by challenges to traditional practices, youthful experimentation, and utopian idealism. My dissertation combines the history of the Capuchin mission and the construct of the Long Sixties in a novel way to explain that the change in missionary behavior is related to this distinct time period.

Defining Critical Feminist Justpeace: Women's Peacebuilding Praxis and Feminist Political Thought

Karie Cross

Political Science & Peace Studies

How do women build peace in contexts of extreme diversity? How does gender-based solidarity operate among women peacebuilders coming from multiple ethnicities, religions, and classes? I pursue these questions both empirically and normatively, using an ethnographic study of women peacebuilders in the diverse and conflict-ridden state of Manipur, India, as the basis for sustained engagement with two schools of feminist political theory. I take women’s peacebuilding practices as an articulation of feminist theory—as praxis—and I use them to challenge aspects of Martha Nussbaum’s liberal feminist approach to women's human development and Brooke Ackerly’s critical feminist framework of universal human rights.

Building and Burning Bridges: Solidarity and Contention Among Peace Activists in Mindanao

Hyunjin Deborah Kwak

Sociology & Peace Studies

My dissertation explains how activist groups’ foci of attention and interaction patterns generate different stylistic orientations toward action. This study addresses my broader theoretical interest in the power of cultural practice to affect group identity and collective behavior. My dissertation is based on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Mindanao, Philippines, in the immediate aftermath of signing the historic peace accord that put an end to four decades of armed conflict. Civil society organizations and networks of Christian, Moro, and Indigenous peace activists played a critical role in the peace accord negotiations and social reconciliation efforts. Through a study of deliberative spaces, I examine how activist groups’ social sphere and patterns of interaction shape their organizational foci, including the types of project they choose to pursue and their theories of how to achieve social change. I analyze two distinct foci of attention found among Mindanao peace activists: these different foci in turn, inform and sustain two different styles of collective action: that of “position-taking advocates” and “community bridge-builders.” Organizational focus constrains group action, and differences in foci among activist groups often lead to tensions when they try to cooperate in a network. 

Ideology & Authoritarian Persistence: Shaping the Public Sphere in North Korea and Burma

Alexander Dukalskis

Political Science & Peace Studies

My dissertation examines how ideology and information control contribute to the persistence of authoritarian regimes. I argue that while dominant ideologies of such regimes may differ in content, they rely on similar sets of underlying mechanisms designed to impact interactions in the public sphere. My dissertation analyzes how the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) under Kim Jong Il and Burma/Myanmar under successive military juntas have attempted to legitimate themselves as military regimes in the post-Cold War era. It illustrates how the ideologies of the DPRK and the Burmese junta worked to forestall critiques about authoritarian rule by limiting and manipulating discussion in the political public sphere.

Narratives of Power: History Education and Statecraft in Uganda

Ashley Greene

History & Peace Studies

My dissertation examines official history curricula used in Ugandan secondary schools between 1962 and the present in order to better understand how changes in history education have reflected the national aspirations and challenges of Uganda’s political leaders. Drawing on research done in the U.S., the U.K, and Uganda, I juxtapose educational curricula and materials from various time periods and administrations with political rhetoric found in newspapers, speeches, and unpublished papers. Following eleven months of fieldwork in four regions of Uganda, I combine traditional historical research in archival depositories with an integrated peace studies approach, using semi-structured interviews with teachers, students, and school administrators. In addition to contributing to an understudied topic in Ugandan history, my dissertation will increase understanding of the role of education in national development and post-conflict reconciliation, particularly in countries that continue to struggle with the violent legacies of the past.

Agency Under Duress: A Political Theological Approach to Peacebuilding

Janna Hunter-Bowman

Theology & Peace Studies

How do persons under attack and considered weak become change agents? My dissertation examines the corporate agency of Colombian Pentecostal communities in contexts of direct and sustained violence, emergent from deep structural violence. In spite of the “local turn” in peacebuilding and growing interest in religious peacebuilding, theoretical accounts of the agency of local religious actors in situations of great constraint are underdeveloped. Grounded in fieldwork (2001-2004; 2006-2009), I provide descriptions of communities that give primacy to collective ontology as the basis for their self-protection and other forms of social political engagement, without erasing internal difference or fluid and dynamic selves. Narrative descriptions are the basis for a theological reconstruction of this form of agency, as well as a critical reassessment and revision of eschatological categories used to talk about non-state subjectivities in Christian theology. The dissertation concludes with a return to the grounded realities of the communities, who once enacted peace amidst war on the local level in invisibility but in 2015 actively engaged in multi-level and multi-level peace processes.

Good and Bad Apologies: Determinants of Successful State Apologies

Ji Eun Kim

Political Science & Peace Studies

State apologies addressing past injustices have dramatically increased over the past few decades and many have argued their important role in political reconciliation. My dissertation examines the conditions of successful state apologies, apologies which recipients find more satisfactory and acceptable. My theory tests the importance of four factors which can lead to various apology receptions: the ways of expression (who speaks what, when, where, and how), behavioral consistency of the apologizer, conspicuous opportunism of the apologizer, and the gap between apologizer and recipients’ perceptions regarding past injustice conveyed in prior communicative interaction. My dissertation looks at both interstate and domestic apologies in the aftermath of government-sponsored human rights violations and combines cross-case comparison research and within-case studies. By identifying important causal conditions of apology reception, this project aims to contribute to our empirical knowledge of state apologies and to further specify the relationship between apology and political reconciliation.

Armed with Good Intentions? Explaining Arms Embargo Compliance

Kathrin Kranz

Political Science & Peace Studies

My dissertation—“Armed with good intentions? Explaining arms embargo compliance”—investigates why major arms exporters have come not only to comply with international arms embargoes, but also to embrace them as policy instruments. I examine and contrast the historical developments in two leading arms exporting nations, Germany and the United Kingdom. During the past 50 years, these countries moved away from treating arms embargoes as a nuisance they reluctantly navigated—and sometimes violated—to championing them as policy instruments. Based on rich case studies of the arms embargo regimes against South Africa and China, and interviews with policymakers and archival research, the dissertation finds that the growing strength of the arms embargo norm has made noncompliance a costly choice for arms exporting states.

¡Presente! Political Theology at the Gates of Ft. Benning

Kyle Lambelet

Theology & Peace Studies

The relationship between commitments to the faithful practice of the Christian life and effective engagement in political change has long troubled both theory and practice at the intersection of theology, politics, and nonviolence. When Christian theologians and ethicists have considered the relationship, they have tended to collapse the dialectic, privileging one principle or the other. When analysts of strategic nonviolence have taken it up, they have tended to neglect considerations of faithfulness, focusing largely on why nonviolence works. The aim of this dissertation is to offer a working account of practical reasoning that leaves in play both considerations of faithfulness and effectiveness, as well as a number of other embodied principles of theo-political action. I pursue this aim by executing an extended case study of the School of Americas Watch (SOAW), one of the longest running nonviolent social movements currently active in the U.S. today. I analyze four sites of practical reasoning—dilemmas related ritual, pluralism, law, and charisma—and in doing so describe the complex ways in which SOAW activists deploy considerations of faithfulness and effectiveness as they discern how to engage politically. Rather than collapsing or evading the relationship between the two principles, these four dilemmas demonstrate a constellation of common forms in which the task of practical reasoning might be worked out. As an exercise in political theology, my dissertation does not terminate in description. I argue that an adequate account of practical reason shows it to be an intersubjective and embodied practice that responds to God’s agency in history.

Communities of War and Peace: Arendt, Political Association, and International Relations

Shinkyu "James" Lee

Political Science & Peace Studies

My dissertation examines theoretical issues relating to the nature and purpose of political communities according to Hannah Arendt’s perspective. Utilizing Arendt’s engagements with three institutional models (the nation-state, the ancient polis, and the modern republic), my project articulates her rationale for political associations and explores its implications for domestic and international politics. Identifying agonistic action and public institutions as recurrent themes for Arendt, I explicate their specific functions in her vision of free politics: agonistic action helps to establish new political relationships, while the fragility of institutions creates urgency for political actors to mutually care for their public worlds. I argue that these two sides of Arendt’s thinking, along with her novel ideas of augmentation and federalism, offer an insightful way of re-conceiving of states and state relations, one that eschews authoritarianism and imperialism while achieving both intra-state and inter-state equality. The result is a more nuanced model of a pluralistic society of states than either idealistic cosmopolitanism or conventional realism offers.

Does Violence Begat Violence? Factors Moderating Trajectories of Youth Aggression in a Context of Political Conflict

Laura Taylor

Psychology & Peace Studies

My dissertation examined if exposure to intergroup or sectarian antisocial behavior increases youth aggression and if changes in youth aggression are related to participation in intergroup conflict. The study utilized four waves of a longitudinal dataset of mother/child in Northern Ireland. Although boys were higher than girls in initial aggression, there were no significant gender differences in the average change in aggression from 10 to 20 years old. Experience with sectarian antisocial behavior predicted greater aggression, but that effect weakened with age and was buffered by a cohesive family environment. The findings identify ways the family environment protects youth from greater aggression and hostility and suggest ways to decrease the potential for youth mobilization in protracted conflict.

Concluding Conquest: Why States End Military Occupation

Lenore VanderZee

Political Science & Peace Studies

Military occupation has been part of interstate relations the system existed. Conquest paid, and controlling territory meant reaping its benefits. However, after World War II norms of state sovereignty and territorial integrity were codified in the United Nations Charter. At the same time, maintaining colonization became untenable and politically harmful, and Western states began to relinquish their colonies overseas, either by force or choice. Despite these emerging norms and the process of decolonization, military occupation continues to be an important international issue. There have been forty-two occupations that have begun since the end of World War II; of these, thirteen remain ongoing, and twenty-nine have ended. This project asks: Why do some of these occupations endure, while others end? Specifically, Why and how do states end military occupation? I theorize that the interaction between conditions at the international, dyadic, and domestic levels of analysis significantly shift the cost-benefit analysis of occupying states.

There has been very little comparative work on the processes of military occupation – the studies are limited to a few books and articles that do not directly address the question at hand, nor do they have a coherent and logical definition of military occupation from which to build. To fill this gap, I created an original dataset identifying forty-two military occupations, 1945-2014 and collecting data on 32 variables. Using this data, I build my theory and develop hypotheses using diverse literatures, including territorial disputes, inter- and intrastate wars, failing states and falling empires, the demise of colonialism, and case studies of the individual cases of military occupation.

I then test my theory by analyzing two cases of military occupation that share several important similarities: Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor (1975-1999) and Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara (1975-Present). Through comparative process-tracing, I ascertain how conditions at the three levels of analysis interact to result in these divergent outcomes.

The Making of Modern Citizens: Cosmopolitanism behind the Iron Curtain

Ana Velitchkova

Sociology & Peace Studies

How is social integration achieved under modern non-democratic regimes? My dissertation finds that cultural elites in former state-socialist Bulgaria,Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Romania developed alternative historical forms of modernity, which were not only sources of social solidarity and domestic peace but also facilitated international cooperation across the Iron Curtain following World War II. These homegrown modernities were typified by the most prominent volunteer and autonomous transnational movement in Eastern Europe during state-socialism — the constructed international language Esperanto. Simultaneously local and global, Eastern European modernities were inspired by a local ethics of civility as fellowship, by Marxism as understood and lived under state-socialism, and by global models, particularly social, economic, and cultural rights norms. The synthetic Eastern European modernities were grounded in unique modes of social relations, practices, institutions, and discourse styles and consisted of expectations of the individual, civil relations, relation with the nation-state, and international relations.