WORKING PAPERS Pro-Sociality of Civil Society Leaders: Legacies of Rebel Control in Sub-Saharan Africa
Recipient of the Ralph Bunche Best Graduate Student Paper - 2018, from the African Politics Conference Group, an organized section of the American Political Science Association. Pre-Analysis Plan.
International donors funnel significant aid to local civil society organizations to facilitate post-conflict democratization, but research fails to consider how war shapes the attitudes and behaviors of organization leadership. I develop a theory in which wartime fear generated by rebel takeover produces egocentricism and discrimination among civil society leaders. Egocentricism emerges because fear leads civil society leaders to keep resources for themselves. Discrimination emerges because rebel takeover exacerbates existing cleavages, inducing civil society leaders to discriminate against outgroups. To test this theory, I leverage geographic variation in rebel control within Côte d’Ivoire through interviews, surveys, and lab-in-the-field games. I find that civil society leaders who lived under rebel control are more egocentric and more discriminatory than their counterparts under continuous government control. These findings complicate our expectations for post-conflict democratization by providing greater understanding of the impact of relying on war-traumatized civil society leaders.
Civic Education in Violent Elections: Evidence from Côte d'Ivoire's 2015 Election, with Leonardo Arriola, Aila Matanock, Manuela Travaglianti Pre-Analysis Plan. This paper examines whether democracy promotion programs such as civic education can affect citizens’ attitudes toward democracy, elections, and even violence in countries where multiparty competition has been associated with violent instability. We studied this question in Côte d’Ivoire, where the 2010 election renewed a devastating civil war. In the run-up to the 2015 presidential election, we randomized a civic education program in neighborhoods of Abidjan, the country’s de facto capital. Contrary to expectations, we find that exposure to civic education induced voters to adopt more negative views of the electoral process, including likelihood of fraud, as well as to express greater fear of violence during the election. Exposure to civic education also provoked voters to report support for the use of political violence. We theorize that these citizens may be more likely to express or engage in political discussion due to the treatment, but the mechanisms merit further investigation. Civic Education Messaging Effects in Violent Contexts,with Leonardo Arriola, Aila Matanock, Manuela Travaglianti Pre-Analysis Plan. Peace messaging is considered a crucial aspect of civic education in countries experiencing electoral violence. However, relatively little is known about whether such messaging influences citizen attitudes and behaviors. We examine how individuals respond to messages intended to increase participation in elections and lower support for violence through a survey experiment in Côte d’Ivoire. We randomized exposure to radio treatments that varied the content of the message (peace or rights), the messenger’s identity, and the salience of violence. We find that voters primed to think of violence are more likely to fear voting regardless of which message they receive. Voters respond positively to both peace and rights messages by decreasing support for electoral violence. Messages are particularly effective when delivered by the electoral commission rather than an NGO or the United Nations. We find heterogenous effects by ethnicity: swing and opposition groups are most likely to reduce support for violence.
Trauma Exposure vs. Trauma Response: A Review of the Impact of Violence on Post-Conflict Outcomes, with Biz Herman
This paper presents a systematic review of the literature on trauma and its consequences in post-conflict and forced migration settings. Studies vary in whether they examine trauma exposure—the experience of living through an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury—or trauma response—the range of psychophysiological responses that emerge after trauma exposure. In this systematic review, we examine how different conceptualizations of trauma exposure and trauma response in conflict- and forced migration-affected populations produce consistent or disparate results across 164 papers. We examine variations in case selection, measurements used, identification strategy, and outcomes observed. This review comprehensively looks at the state of the emerging literature on the micro-level causes and consequences of violence, and offers paths forward in the conceptualization and measurement of trauma in studies seeking to better understand sociopolitical outcomes in trauma-affected populations.
Social Media and Electoral Violence: Evidence from Côte d'Ivoire, with Irene Morse Despite the prevalence of election violence across the globe, use of social media in countries that have experienced or are expected to experience election-related violence has yet to be systematically investigated. This paper aims to fill this gap in our understanding of popular narratives around violent elections. We ask: how do partisans use social media in the run up to elections in contexts of violence? To answer this question, we conduct computational text analysis on over 1.4 million posts from 171 public groups supporting major political candidates on Facebook in Côte d’Ivoire from 2019-2020. We demonstrate that discussions of violence-related topics are more prevalent among opposition supporting groups. Opposition supporters are not only more likely to discuss violence, they are also more likely to use hostile, xenophobic, and incendiary language, and are more likely to describe specific episodes of violence than incumbent supporters. Alarmingly, we find that violence-related topics are associated with more shares on Facebook. We show how leveraging social media can provide insight into the processes underpinning the use of and support for violence in elections OTHER PUBLICATIONS