Comparative Politics & Methods
Dissertation Title: “Remobilizing Resentment: Intrareligious Elite Polarization and the Escalation of Violence against Religious Minorities During Myanmar’s Political Liberalization”
Committee: Allen Hicken (co-chair), Dan Slater (co-chair), Pauline Jones, Yuri Zhukov
Summary: My research focuses on questions related to the intersection of state- and nation-building, authoritarianism, religion, and political violence. I explore these questions primarily in Southeast Asia, where I have extensive area knowledge and fieldwork experience. In my research, I use a combination of fieldwork, comparative historical analysis, structured interviews, quasi-experimental methods, and automated text analysis.
My dissertation and subsequent book project “Remobilizing Resentment: Intrareligious Elite Polarization and the Escalation of Violence against Religious Minorities During Myanmar’s Political Liberalization” challenges the assumption in existing literature that political elites’ provocations against minorities during regime change inevitably lead to large-scale anti-minority violence. My dissertation advances the argument that escalation is conditional; intragroup polarization among majority elites along the traditional-secular/rationalist cleavage is one factor that increases the risk of escalation against minority outgroups. I focus specifically on religious leaders and large-scale violence against religious minorities through the case of anti-Muslim violence during Myanmar’s political liberalization. I support my argument with data from seven months of fieldwork in Myanmar, historical analysis, structured interviews with Buddhist monks, and a subnational dataset on religious leaders participation in an anti-Muslim movement.
My other current research projects center around the role of information communication technologies (ICT) in contentious politics. Under what conditions are new ICTs tools of political liberation? I have a co-authored paper in the Asian Journal of Comparative Politics that uses Myanmar language public Facebook posts after the 2021 military coup to demonstrate how prior digital activism enhanced activists’ ability to harness the internet for resistance. A paper in progress uses a differences-in-differences design to disentangle the relative effect of internet cuts on anti-regime protests and military repression after the 2021 Myanmar military coup. In another working paper, I leverage two unique datasets of public election-related posts during Myanmar’s 2020 election to classify election fraud disinformation and to analyze its spread and virality.