Work In Progress


First Movers in the Arab Spring

Repression and Activism among the Arab Spring’s First Movers: Morocco’s (Almost) Revolutionaries,” Forthcoming, British Journal of Political Science.

Why are some people willing to initiate protest against authoritarian regimes?  How does repression affect their willingness to act?  Drawing on data from the Arab Spring protests in Morocco, this paper argues first that activism is passed down from one generation to the next: first movers often came from families that had been punished for opposing the regime in the past.  Second, repression during the Arab Spring was also counterproductive: those connected to first movers via Facebook supported renewed pro-democracy protests when informed of the regime’s use of repression in 2011.  A regime that jails and beats political dissidents creates incentives for its citizens to oppose it; these abuses can come back to haunt the regime long after repression occurs.


Monarchies and Revolution 

When colonial rule in the Middle East ended in the mid 20th century, a variety of different regimes were charged with constructing the state in the post-colonial era: some were headed by monarchs, while others were run by nationalist parties and authoritarian strongmen. In the post-colonial period, these regimes have experienced different types of upheaval: coups, civil war, and protests. In this paper, I argue that a state’s vulnerability to instability depended upon the authoritarian institutions in place. Specifically, monarchs were less likely to confront revolutionary protest than other authoritarian rulers. This reduced threat from the street arises from a unique institutional feature: monarchies can democratize without destabilizing the leadership through transitioning to a constitutional monarchy. Constitutional monarchy is desirable because it offers both democracy and stability.  This paper contrasts the behavior of pro-democracy citizens in monarchies with their counterparts in other authoritarian regimes, considering how the aspiration of achieving constitutional monarchy affects both the character and the likelihood of instability. The theory helps account for variation during the Arab Spring protests, and the analysis draws on these cases, as well as historical data.


Direct and Indirect Rule in European Empires

When European imperial powers conquered territories in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, they took on the project of ruling diverse populations that differed from them along ethnic, linguistic, and religious lines. Colonial powers drew on two distinct ideologies of rule to manage the diversity they encountered in their overseas possessions. The first was explicitly interventionist: it defended and justified colonial rule as a “civilizing” project that would modernize and transform colonial territories; the conquering state itself provided the model to be emulated. The authenticity of’ the commitment to this civilizing mission has been widely questioned, in part because it contradicted the other dominant ideology, which framed the colonial project in preservationist terms. This second ideology advocated avoiding direct intervention in local societies, framing the imperial project as one that would protect culture, tradition, and existing structures of authority.  Both ideologies were paternalistic, reflecting a belief in European superiority, but they had  different implications for how the colonies would be governed and where the boundaries of the political community would be drawn.  The first implied direct rule while the second provided a rationale for indirect rule.  In this book project, I investigate patterns of direct and indirect rule, asking why actors favored one type of rule over the other, how these ideologies of rule were implemented, and why indirect rule became dominant over time.

An examination of indirect and direct rule during the colonial period is important because these types of rule have been linked to nationalist resistance, the empowerment of some groups and elites over others, and long-term democratization and development.