I earned my Ph.D. in Security Studies from the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs at the University of Central Florida in August 2021, a Graduate Certificate in Intelligence and National Security from the same institution in 2018, an MA in Peace Studies from the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, the University of Notre Dame in May 2013.
My primary research agenda focuses broadly on conflict processes, governance, and democratization, with a regional emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa. The conflict processes research agenda seeks to explain, among other things, how climate change, local institutional arrangements, state legitimacy, and neopatrimonial politics influence conflict behaviors at the subnational and microscale. Using various methodological approaches, I evaluate these research puzzles.
My dissertation, Security dynamics in West Africa: The interplay of ecology, state legitimacy, and corruption on state stability, examines three conflict processes shaping West Africa’s security landscape. The first of the three individual dissertation papers investigate crop farmer (farmer) and animal herder (herder) conflict processes. The violent clashes between farmers and herders have become a significant security albatross for populations and governments in West Africa, yet, we have a limited understanding of the factors that make the conflict processes more enduring. This dissertation chapter raises three questions: Why have we recently experienced a remarkable increase in violent farmer-herder interactions in West Africa than in the past? To which extent do extreme climatic conditions affect violent farmer-herder interactions? Additionally, do variations in indigenous institutional arrangements of land ownership and common-pool resource (CPR) governance regimes prompt violent farmer-herder relations? I draw on three independent pieces of literature: climate change and conflict nexus, land governance, and common-pool resource governance to explain farmer-herder interactions in West Africa, emphasizing Ghana.
The second dissertation paper probes links between neopatrimonial politics, explicitly political corruption, and violent conflict processes. The corruption literature is animated, linked to governance and development problems. However, scholars have ignored how it might influence violent conflict processes. This paper fills the lacuna in the literature by assessing how corruption is connected to violent conflict dynamics. Specifically, I tie corruption to counterinsurgency failures, using Boko Haram in Nigeria as a case study. The empirical analysis, drawn from micro-qualitative evidence from financial statements, military records, and terrorism data, finds that corruption enervated military capacity while strengthening insurgency effectiveness. The final dissertation paper probes ties between state legitimacy and compliance with West Africa’s regional collective security regime on the nonproliferation of small arms and light weapons. It uses case studies about Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria to infer how state legitimacy crises induce weapons demands and undermine compliance with the collective security regime.
My works have appeared in outlets such as African Security and Small Wars & Insurgencies.