Research

Most of my work falls within one of three main research agendas: the drivers of conflict and cooperation between states, the domestic politics of foreign policy, and diversity in the profession.

Book Project: Urban War and Urban Peace

I argue that while the movement of population from the countryside to cities is one of the most important transformations in modern history, its impacts on interstate conflict and national security policies have been largely neglected. I show how differences in countries' urban geography and policy-makers' understandings of urban vulnerability inform strategic thinking and behavior, including the willingness to engage in military confrontation and the desire and ability to stand fast during crises. Importantly, countries with more concentrated urban populations are more sensitive to the costs of modern war, and therefore less likely to initiate conflicts and more likely to avoid escalating crises.

I also argue that the effects of urban geography are partly contingent on the state of military technology, such as airpower and nuclear weapons. High degrees of urban concentration are particularly worrisome when rivals have the means to rain devastation on one's cities. This means that the effect of urban vulnerability on state behavior is mediated by the military means available to rivals. I explore the implications for the future of conflict in a world of megacities and continuously diffusing military technology.

Employing a variety of methods and draws on scholarship from International Relations, Comparative Politics, Economics, Geography, and History, the book offers a new way of thinking about geography, technology, and international conflict.


Related projects: Urban Geography and Nuclear Strategy

In others pieces within this broader agenda, I seek to show that vulnerability caused by urban concentration is also an important factor in explaining nuclear policies and that variation in such vulnerability helps explain the varying degrees to which states follow the logic of the so-called nuclear revolution. Shortly put, I argue that the purportedly revolutionary effects of nuclear weapons are felt less readily in countries that, largely for reasons of urban geography, can plausibly–though not necessarily rationally–entertain notions of limited nuclear war. This has implications for decisions regarding the pursuit of nuclear weapons, doctrine, force structures, and behavior during nuclear crises. To demonstrate the importance of urban geography in shaping nuclear policies, I utilize case studies drawing on extensive archival research in the US and UK, as well as medium-N analysis of all nuclear countries, and a variety of statistical techniques to analyze data on urban geography and nuclear policy.


Other projects

I am also engaged in research projects on: the effects of urban concentration on civil conflict; the neglected importance of Cold War dynamics in quantitative studies of crisis behavior; balance of power dynamics and international authority; the role of gender in the peer-review process; and the domestic politics of US Foreign Policy, among other topics.

My previous research includes: Chinese foreign and economic policies; the political economy of China-Latin America relations; civil-military relations and Brazilian foreign and defense policies; US foreign policy and nuclear proliferation in South America; conceptual issues in terrorism and political violence; and the challenges to trust building and cooperation among nuclear rivals. See publications.