My research is rooted in a fieldwork-based approach, and my main sites thus far have been Uganda, Sierra Leone and the Republic of Georgia.

By looking at the international system from the ground up, I have found that the structure of the patronage state risks frustrating even the most genuine attempts to reform in support of human rights or good governance. I have also discovered that Sierra Leonean priests are all either scholars or Batman (and usually both), and that my Georgian landlady’s homemade khatchapuri is what we will eat in heaven so long as there is enough time between toasts. 

I have benefited from logistical and moral support from scholars at Fourah Bay College (Freetown, Sierra Leone), Tbilisi State University, the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (Tbilisi, Georgia), the Centre for Basic Research and Makerere University (Kampala, Uganda). The arguments are also informed by in-country discussions with human rights and anti-corruption activists, former political leaders and leadership hopefuls, military officials, ex-rebels and market vendors.

My fieldwork has received generous support from the Dispute Resolution Research Center at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, as well as Northwestern’s Program of African Studies and the Buffett Center for Comparative and International Research, and the hordes of semi-employed youth without whom I would still be lost on the dirt roads outside Freetown.

I received approximately 47 marriage proposals, 23 of which were from people I could not actually see. I also know how to order a single loaf of bread in Georgian, which is more impressive than you might think. I hear the bakers thought I was pretty polite.

For more on my research interests visit the About Me page. For more on specific projects visit Research & Publications.