My research deals with questions in the intersection between democratic institutions and armed conflict. I am particularly interested in understanding what places certain elections at risk of violence; the impact of electoral violence on citizens and on democratic institutions at large; and how democratic governance is influenced by armed conflict.

I also study the political consequences of violent contention more broadly, as well as the security implications of climate change; violence against non-combatants; and conflicts between non-state actors.


Electoral Violence: A threat to Democratic Transition and Consolidation?

Can political violence precipitate democratic backsliding? In this project, funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, we focus on the consequences of political violence for democratic governance. We study how political violence, particularly in the context of elections, influence democratic institutions, drawing on macro-level comparisons, and micro-level data. Do political violence lead voters to disengage from the political process, or to mobilize in support of democratic principles? Are voters response to violence and intimidation conditional on their political loyalties? The project will adress these research questions drawing on a 2019 post-election survey of 3000 respondents from the Indian states of West-Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, as well as other datasources. The project team includes Annekatrin Deglow (researcher), Gudlaug Olofsdottir (PhD student) and Jenniina Kotajoki (research assistant) at at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research. It also involves collaborative work with Ursula Daxecker at the University of Amsterdam.

Political legacies of electoral violence: Understanding challenges for democratic transition

In this project we examine how electoral malpractices, including violence and intimidation, influence democratic governance and democratization trajectories, with a particular focus on Nigeria. The project combines quantitative and qualitative analysis. For the quantitative part we have conducted a nationally representative post-election survey of 2400 citizens after the 2019 general elections in Nigeria. The survey covers questions related to citizens experience of electoral integrity, electoral malpractice, and - violence, as well as their democratic attitudes and engagement with democratic institutions. The qualitative analysis draws on a comparative case study of different areas in Lagos, which have seen different patterns of community mobilization after exposure to election related insecurity. The project is undertaken in collaboration with Henrik Angerbrandt at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research and Nicholas Kerr at University of Florida, USA. The project is financed by the Swedish Research Council through a Development Research grant.

Climate Change, Food Insecurity and Violent Conflict

Climate change and extreme weather events are increasingly regarded as a significant threat to social stability and peace. Academics and policy makers are particularly concerned with how climate-related shocks may affect agricultural production and food security as factors contributing to armed conflict. Yet, the question of when and how climate induced food insecurity leads to armed conflict is still debated in academia. Addressing this research gap, this project has two research priorities:

  1. Explore the institutional context under which climate-induced food insecurity is most likely to increase the risk of political violence.

  2. Understand the behaviors of and interactions between non-state armed groups, civilians and the government in response to climate-induced food insecurity

The project combines global statistical analysis with in-depth case studies of the Philippines, Mali and Nigeria in order to make theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of which institutions matter most for preventing the adverse societal effects of climate change. In this project I am working together with Nina von Uexkull, Colin Walch, Sara Lindberg Bromley and Henrik Angerbrandt at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. The project is financed by a joint research grant by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and FORMAS.

The INstitutional roots of electoral violence

How is the risk of election-induced violence influenced by institutional developments before, during and after the transition from authoritarian to democratic rule? In this project, directed by Kristine Höglund at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, we advance the knowledge about electoral violence and its institutional roots by combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. The project will draw on analysis of VECO: a novel, global dataset on violent electoral conflicts, covering the years 1989 to 2015. We will also conduct an in-depth analysis of Kenya and Zambia. These countries have similar electoral systems, but markedly different experiences of violence around elections. Jointly, the contributions will advance our understanding of the causes of electoral violence and its consequences for political institutions, peace and democracy. The project team also includes Håvard Hegre at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research.

Cost of contention

What are the aftereffects of political contention? The Costs of Contention project, directed by Christian Davenport at the University of Michigan and based at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (Norway) seeks to understand how diverse forms of political conflict and violence (e.g. genocide, civil war, human rights violations, protest, protest policing, terrorism, counter-terrorism, revolution, counter-revolution) influence various key political and economic outcomes, such as the type of political system, mass participation, economic development and foreign direct investment. In previous research, our understanding of the overall costs of conflict and violence has been limited by studying too narrow categories political conflict and violence as well as political and economic outcomes. The current project opens up the categories of contention and costs in order to achieve a comprehensive analysis of the real costs of contention. Additionally, the project seeks to explore not only global patterns but also sub-national and individual level patterns and processes. The research team includes Christian Davenport (University of Michigan), Håvard Nygård (PRIO), Ragnhild Nordås (University of Michigan), Scott Gates (University of Oslo), Dave Armstrong (Western University), amongst others.