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“The Interactive Relationship between Gender and Strategy

Global Society, June 27, 2018, 1–20, Link here 

The central argument of this article is that gender affects the strategy of non-state armed organisations (NSAOs) and strategic decisions affect gender dynamics inside NSAOs.The article makes a theoretical contribution by constructing a framework to analyse the two-way relationship between gender and strategy that can be applied to different NSAOs. The first part of the framework analyses the gender dynamics in the society where an NSAO is formed. The second component examines the ways in which gender

dynamics in that society affect NSAOs’ strategic decisions. The final step involves analysing the new gender order inside an NSAO created by gendered strategic decisions. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda is the central case study used to illustrate the utility of this framework, but I also briefly highlight the relationship between gender and strategy in the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador.

"Worth Many Sins: Al-Shabaab's Shifting Relationship with Kenyan Women"

(with Katharine Petrich), Small Wars & Insurgencies, September 19, 2019. Link here

What happens when the world’s “oldest profession” interacts with history’s oldest form of war? In the Horn of Africa, a symbiotic relationship between prostitutes and terrorists has emerged, illuminating critical information about the group’s ideology and strategy. In this article, we argue that al-Shabaab’s differential treatment of Somali and other East African women reveals the group’s strategic focus on Somalia, despite its claims to be a globally focused Islamic extremist organization. Through original ethnographic fieldwork in Kenya, the authors explore al-Shabaab’s deliberate relationships with different groups of women and explain how this helps scholars better understand the group. This article suggests the next phase of scholarship on gender and terrorism, encouraging scholars not only to pay attention to the relationship between women and terrorist groups, but to also examine the nuanced relationships between different categories of women and terrorist groups.  

Work in Progress

Wedded to Warfare: Forced Marriage in Rebel Groups

Book Manuscript 

Despite increased public attention to the use of rape during war, and the growing scholarship on different forms of sexual violence in armed conflict, surprisingly little research exists about why rebel groups choose to violently force young women and girls to marry their fighters. This form of sexual and gender-based violence called “forced marriage” is not a costless strategy for armed groups.  In fact, it requires a good deal of time, energy, and resources from the groups’ leadership to sustain. Additionally, rebel groups can face resistance from the populations  they are seeking to control when they force their daughters and wives to marry their own fighters.  In Wedded to Warfare: Forced Marriage in Rebel Groups, I explore rebel groups use of forced marriage and answer the question, “How and why do rebel groups use forced marriage  to fight their wars?”

"Female Membership? Understanding Relationships with Governing Rebel Groups"

What does it look like to be a “member” of a rebel group when the rebel group governs?  Ideas about membership are complicated along two dimensions.. What forms of an engagement with a governing rebel group qualify as supporting the group versus complying with local governance? I create a new typology that moves beyond narrow categorizations focused only on membership. The typology has two dimensions: who the rebel group claims as part of its core constituency and who is rewarded as part of their engagement with the rebel group. The four broad categories for engaging with a rebel group are: member, employee, supporter, and citizen. While most typologies are implicitly created for the relationship between men and a rebel group and then applied to women in this case I do the opposite and begin by applying the typology to women’s relationships with rebel groups. However, men will have the same categories of engagement with rebel groups although they will look different in practice. To create a new understanding of membership, I use primary data from al-Shabaab’s governance in Kismayo, Somalia. Using a more nuanced classification system for understanding the ways in which a population (and in this case women specifically) engage with a governing rebel group, will sharpen the ways scholars and policymakers understand rebel groups and their relationships with the populations they rule.

"#AidToo: Sexual Harassment and Abuse in International Aid"

(with Dyan Mazurana)

"Collaborative Research: Many Pitfalls But a Worthy Challenge"

(with Clifford Collins Omondi Okwany)

Collaborative research, or field research projects with teams of members from the global south and north, are becoming more popular in the field of political science. In the abstract, collaborative research is a positive step for advances in scholarship and in encouraging discussions between scholars from different regions. However, there are also many potential ways in which collaborative research can become exploitative, unethical, and illegal. In this article, we share our experience as a scholar from the global south and a scholar from the global north who have engaged in different collaborative research projects. We seek to call attention to the potential weaknesses in collaborative research, but ultimately we argue that scholars should not be discouraged from engaging in this methodology. By sharing our experiences we seek to provide different models for positive collaborative research experiences and highlight potential ways in which collaborative research can become problematic. Ultimately, a more open discussion about field research methodology, will lead to more productive and ethical scholarship.

Other Publications

"Forced Marriage: Three Facts to Help Explain This Global Conflict Dynamic," Duck of Minerva, July 14, 2020. Link here

“Women in Al-Shabaab through a New War’s Lens,” Women and International Security Blog, July 25, 2018. Link here


“Understanding how women and girls have been affected by and contribute(d) to the reach and effects of Al-Shabaab,” Report to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 2018 (with Judith Gardner and Dyan Mazurana).


 “STOP the Sexual Assault Against Humanitarian and Development Aid Workers,” Feinstein International Center Report, May 2017 (with Dyan Mazurana). Link here


“The Return to Violence in South Sudan,” Report for the Planning from the Future Initiative, August 2015 (with Daniel Maxwell).


 “The Dangerous Arguments in the 2012 Human Security Report: Moving the Debate Away from the Academics and the Wonks,” World Peace Foundation Blog, March 7, 2013. Link here 

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