Rachel Sweet

           home     |    research    |    about     |    teaching   |      vita      |    contact           

Karibu / Welcome

I am a postdoctoral Academy Scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.   My research agenda focuses on the politics of armed conflict, conflict resolution, state-building and institutional change in fragile states.  I completed my Ph.D. in Political Science at Northwestern University in 2017, with support from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Dissertation Fellowship and a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Award.

My work lies at the intersect of Comparative Politics and International Relations.  I am interested in how armed groups engage with pre-existing political institutions of the states in which they organize, and how rebel-brokered changes are adopted into the post-conflict political order.  I specialize in conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where I have spent three years over the course of doctoral field research, work with local universities, and consulting with the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Congo.   This experience builds on seven months' field research in Kenya, focused on the politics of vigilante enforcement of informal housing rights in urban areas.

Too often, research in conflict settings and fragile states turns in to its own extractive industry.  I aim for engaged scholarship that partners with African scholars and researchers to addresses issues of core concern for local communities.  Building a knowledge base that incorporates feedback and dialogue with local researchers, journalists, and mamas in markets also uncovers surprising findings for seminal questions of political science.  I do so through teaching at local universities in Congo and participation in Africa-based conferences such as the American Political Science Association  Africa Workshop.

I enjoy speaking "Franswili" (the hybrid French-Swahili dialect of eastern Congo), hiking, and riding my bike.  I am an alumna of the Human Needs and Global Resources program at Wheaton College.