Supporting Traditional Leaders to Mitigate Community-Level Conflict


Can community leaders in a highly politicized environment be encouraged to administer power with neutral hands? In this setting, can actions by local leaders alone significantly reduce tensions? I am the principal investigator for a randomized control trial in Zimbabwe that seeks to examine the effects of various trainings for traditional leaders on their level of professionalism in their activities and the amount of division within their communities.


The Political Impact of Foreign-Funded NGOs


Although NGOs are often argued to increase local participation and to create new institutions that counterbalance the state’s power, they may also result in civic disengagement, difficulty evaluating the performance of political candidates, or even capture by political leaders. I am currently working on two projects analyzing the political effects of NGOs’ activities — one is a randomized control trial in Ghana, joint with Dean Karlan and Christopher Udry, and the other is an information experiment in in Uganda, joint with Matthew Winters.


The Long-Term Effects of Missions on Political Development


What have been the long-term effects of missionary activities on the political development of communities in Africa? I examine this by combining data from historic mission maps (georeferenced with the assistance of a team of research assistants) and contemporary measures of political conflict and participation. The fine-grained information allows a sub-national analysis of both where missionaries targeted their activities and the effects of these activities on subsequent political development.