Ora Szekely

Current Research

My current research project focuses on the dynamics of the Syrian civil war, including the rivalries, motivations, and ideological commitments of the various participants in the conflict.  Which points of division have proved most important in shaping the course of the conflict? Which narratives of the conflict have been most powerful? Which audiences matter most for each of the conflict’s participants?

My recent book (co-authored with Jessica Trisko Darden and Alexis Henshaw) explores mobilization, participation, and conflict termination for female combatants in nonstate armed groups. We compare the experiences of members of the various Kurdish factions, the Colombian FARC, and the various parties to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Some additional broad questions that I and my (various, terrific) co-authors are interested in include:

  • Why do some ethno-political organizations choose violent tactics, while others choose nonviolence?
  • How do bureaucratic politics shape policy making in counterinsurgency?
  • What is the causal link between social service provision and improved election performance for militant political organizations?
  • How do states decide which nonstate armed groups to sponsor?



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