I am a postdoctoral fellow in the International Conflict Research Group at ETH Zurich. My research focuses on how power-sharing institutions and territorial autonomy can help to prevent armed conflict and support democratization in multi-ethnic countries. I also study the causes and consequences of exclusionary, majority nationalist movements. In particular, I am interested in how they raise the risk of escalation in interactions with minority-led movements for increased self-determination.
I obtained my PhD from University College London in 2020 (see description here). In 2021, my dissertation was awarded the ECPR Jean Blondel Prize (best dissertation in politics). I also hold an MA degree in Comparative and International Studies from ETH Zurich and a BSc degree in Geography and Chinese from University of Zurich (see here for my complete CV). A portrait of me and my work has previously appeared on ETH News.
To carry out my research, I rely on quantitative methods, which I combine with process tracing for typical cases. This enables me to probe how my hypothesized causal mechanisms “work” in specific conflicts. I predominantly rely on comparative approaches that exploit sub-national variation, most notably between different ethnic groups, geographic regions, and individual citizens. My research has been published in leading journals in the area of conflict research, such as the Journal of Peace Research and the Journal of Conflict Resolution, but also in general disciplinary journals such as Comparative Political Studies and European Political Science Review.
My ongoing research comprises two main projects. First, I continue to examine how power-sharing institutions and territorial autonomy shape conflict and democracy in multi-ethnic countries. Much of this work focuses on ordinary citizens’ political attitudes and the determinants of anti-government protests and low-level violence. By connecting the literature on ethnic conflict with social psychology, I explain how power-sharing and autonomy affect individuals’ political attitudes, such as their grievances, party preferences, and ethnic identification. Second, in a new project funded by the ETH Fellowships Program and the Swiss National Science Foundation, I examine the causes and consequences of majority nationalim around the world. Here, I switch focus from the mobilization of ethnic minorities, which has typically been the main concern in the literature on ethnic conflict, to mobilization on the side of the politically-dominant majority. In particular, I am interested in the cultural identity markers that nationalist organizations employ to define “the nation”. In turn, I examine how this affects minorities’ political rights, the risks of ethnic rebellion, and the prevalence of majoritarian violence.
Throughout my projects, I make use of novel global data. First, I have created the Constitutional Power-Sharing Dataset, which provides group-level information on power-sharing institutions, territorial autonomy, and minorities’ cultural rights, based on hand-coded constitutions and autonomy statutes for more than 180 countries for the period of 1945-2018. Second, I have created the Significant Administrative Units (SAU) dataset, which maps first-order administrative units and autonomous regions for the same set of countries and time period. Third, to examine the consequences of power-sharing and autonomy for ordinary citizens’ attitudes, I have created a new procedure, whereby I systematically standardize existing global mass surveys and connect respondents to specific ethnic groups. Fourth, I am currently in the process of collecting global data on exclusionary majority nationalist movements around the world, again focusing on the post-WW2 period. Finally, I have contributed to several other large datasets, including the Democracy Barometer (where I coordinated the 2018 update) and the Ethnic Power Relations dataset (for which I am currently coordinating the 2023 update).
I have taught Bachelor- and Master-level courses on international relations, political economy, political science in general, and political violence. I have further assisted in teaching classes on statistics and economic geography. Moreover, at ETH Zurich, I have co-supervised the theses of students at the Bachelor-, Master-, and PhD-levels.
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