Resisting Occupation

A central question motivating my recent research has been why some communities resist foreign occupation while others submit.  Most contemporary accounts look at the provision of security and public goods by the occupying power and the ability of potential insurgents to draw on local networks, terrain and supply.  Very little attention has been given to the analysis of the role played by the initial loyalties of the population and to the question of whether some “hearts and minds” might be more difficult to win over than others.  The two papers below draw on my work on schooling and the cultivation of  loyalties to show, using data from the Second World War, that the initial national loyalties of the population play a significant role in determining whether communities will take up arms against an occupying power.

Download “Resisting Occupation” here

Download “Nationalism, Networks, and Armed Resistance to Occupation:  Lessons from a Natural Experiment” here


I am currently working on a variety of topics related to state-building in contemporary settings.  One ongoing project (with Harris Mylonas, at George Washington University) looks at international state-building and nation-building efforts.  The project started with concerns that in policy circles there was inadequate knowledge of how third parties could facilitate state- building in contemporary contexts. We were particularly concerned by the widespread view that the path to stability in cases like Iraq and Afghanistan was to increase the size of the police and the army. In an article in Ethnopolitics entitled, “The Promethean Dilemma: Third Party State-Building on Occupied Territories,” we argue that an increase in the numbers of people who are trained in the arts and implements of force does little, on its own, to build the capacity of the state or to increase order. We posit that the primary task of building a state is the establishment of an effective administrative hierarchy. If efforts to build coercive capacity precede efforts to build loyalty and administrative hierarchy, we argue that the result is more likely to be a future civil war. We are now in the process of extending the analysis in the article to examine the broader history of efforts by outside powers to build, coopt, and maintain administrative control over territory.

Imperial Footprints

I am currently working on identifying the long-term effects of empires on contemporary politics, particularly in Ukraine.  In particular, by taking advantage of the spatial discontinuities we would expect to find along either side of a former imperial boundary.  The research is still in its relatively early stages and I am continue to work on finding ways to unpack the different components of the imperial experience and measure their effects independently.  This is part of a broader effort to unpack older notions of political culture and to think about new ways of approaching the deep and durable effects of what appear to be cultural legacies on corruption, voting, violence, international allegiance, and loyalty.

An early cut at this work, one which demonstrates the use of spatial discontinuity designs to identify the effects of imperial treatments in Ukraine can be downloaded here.


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