I am a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University, where I previously held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship. I received my PhD from Cornell University in August 2015.
I study sub-Saharan African politics. I am broadly interested in state-society relations, particularly how informal, social institutions mediate state action and development outcomes. My research looks at how interactions between the state and social forces drive patterns of public goods provision and long-run development outcomes. I employ a range of methodologies to answer my research questions, from micro-level data to qualitative, case-study and archival research. My work has appeared or is forthcoming in Comparative Politics, World Development and World Politics.
In my book manuscript, Precolonial Legacies in Postcolonial Politics: Representation and Redistribution in Decentralized West Africa, I argue that the contemporary politics of representation and local service provision under democratic decentralization are intimately shaped by the precolonial past. I develop a theory of institutional congruence, whereby high spatial overlap between formal institutional spaces created by decentralization and informal social institutions inherited from the precolonial past, improves the ability of local elites, such as elected official or village chiefs, to coordinate locally across villages. In turn, the relative ease or difficulty of coordination shapes the allocative strategies of local governments: representation and redistribution are broader and more equalizing in cases of high congruence or contentious and targeted in areas where it is low.