“Deploying Justice: Strategic Accountability for Wartime Sexual Violence.” With Meredith Loken and Milli Lake. International Studies Quarterly 62(4): 751-764, 2018.
Why do governments and militaries publicly condemn and prosecute particular forms of abuse? This article explores the Sri Lankan government's decision to promote limited legal accountability for state-perpetrated rape committed in a country otherwise renowned for widespread impunity. We argue that rather than representing a turn against impunity, the symbolic stance against conflict-related sexual violence in a small number of high-profile cases served an explicitly politico-military agenda. The state deployed legal accountability in specific cases to garner political legitimacy among key domestic audiences. The Sri Lankan government drew on the symbolism of female victimhood to mobilize support at a time when support for military counterinsurgency was waning. We show that governments can uniquely instrumentalize sexual violence cases to establish moral authority and territorial legitimacy. Through an examination of the domestic legal response to state-perpetrated human rights abuses, we illustrate the many ways in which women's bodies—and the law—can be mobilized in war to serve military ends.
“Ethics Abroad: Fieldwork in Fragile and Violent Contexts.” With Milli Lake. PS: Political Science & Politics (2018) 51(3): 607-614, 2018
As the volume of field-based research on fragile or violent contexts increases, it is hard to ignore the fact that such settings pose challenges that are not present elsewhere. Access to new political spaces in which to answer pressing social science questions, the availability of cheap labor, the ease of access to powerful figures, and the excitement of “the field” attract social scientists to these settings. However, they often constitute permissive environments in which researchers can engage in conduct that would be considered deeply problematic at home. Based on extended research in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and interviews with social science researchers, this paper explores and critically assesses research practices employed by foreign academics in these contexts.
"Managing Expectations: International Criminal Trials and the Prospects for Deterrence of Mass Atrocity." International Journal of Transitional Justice (2013) 7 (3): 434-454
Despite high hopes that the proliferation of accountability mechanisms represents progress toward the maintenance of international peace and security, claims about the ability of international criminal prosecutions to prevent future atrocities remain largely unexamined. Criminal deterrence depends on the certainty and severity of punishment, and the absence of "overwhelming incentives" to offend. In this article, I survey social science findings about the logic of mass atrocity commission and conclude that international prosecutions are too infrequent and the punishments too mild to affect the decision calculus of perpetrators who use violence against civilians for tactical advantage.