RESEARCH

My current research examines organizational behavior and social change in war- and disaster-affected contexts. Focusing on the Middle East and North Africa, I use ethnographic, interview-based, and archival methods to study how actors such as military organizations (state and non-state), civilian bureaucracies, and political parties cope with crisis, disruption, and fragmentation. Using a relational lens grounded by social network theory, I am particularly interested in examining how interactions between formal organizational hierarchies and actors’ quotidian networks—that is, their everyday kinship, friendship, and other social ties— influence organizational decision-making and evolution. I am broadly interested in civil war and political violence, organizational politics, forced migration, the politics of disaster, humanitarianism, and qualitative research methods. You can read more about my projects below.

PROJECTS

Poster at a Palestine Liberation Organization cultural event in the Biq'a Valley.

Poster at a Palestine Liberation Organization cultural event in the Biq'a Valley.

Militant OrganizationS' Adaptation and resilience

Based on two years of ethnographic, interview-based, and archival research among Palestinian militant groups in Lebanon, my research explores how these groups evolve during and following conflict. Focusing on the question of organizational emergence--e.g., why some groups successfully develop sub-divisions such as smuggling apparatuses and institutions such as inter-group alliances--this work also applies relational approaches to better understand processes of mobilization, recruitment, socialization, polarization, and disciplinary breakdown. I am particularly interested in examining how regionalized patterns of violence influence multiple network dynamics and in tracing the long term social changes that result.

This project has received generous funding from the Palestinian American Research Center, the Social Science Research Council, and the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

Water and sanitation facilities provided by an aid group for internally displaced persons in a village north of Mosul

Water and sanitation facilities provided by an aid group for internally displaced persons in a village north of Mosul

the politics of disaster

Since 2012, I have been studying the politics of forced migration and humanitarian aid provision, with a focus on Lebanon and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Specifically, my work centers on the unexpected political consequences of refugees' and internally displaced persons' interactions with humanitarian bureaucracies, local governments, and pre-existing migrant populations.

A POMEPS Travel-Research-Engagement grant funded my 2014 fieldwork on the politics of Syrian refugees' access to social services in Lebanon.

With Johns Hopkins University PhD student Valerie de Koeijer, I am pursuing a book-length project on ethical communities of practice in settings of war and humanitarian disaster. The project examines the emergence of everyday ethical practices in conflict-adjacent professional fields. From 2017-2019, an Exploration of Practical Ethics Grant awarded through JHU's Berman Institute of Bioethics supported our fieldwork in Uganda and Iraq.

Makeshift stretcher

Makeshift stretcher

research methods, ethics, and preparedness

Working in and adjacent to conflict zones requires an ethical sensibility and practical know-how. I have written several pieces on the challenges and responsibilities involved with conducting research in these environments.

Dr. Milli Lake (LSE) and I founded the Advancing Research on Conflict (ARC) Consortium and Workshop in 2018. The curriculum focuses on preparing scholars for the intellectual, ethical, physical, and psychological demands of research in violent and violence-adjacent settings. The next session will be held in the Washington DC area in August 2019.