Skip navigation

Josef Korbel School of International StudiesSié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy

Gen. Casey Lecture

Conferences & Events

Sié Research Seminar Series

The Sié Research Seminar Series is a forum for discussion among PhD students, faculty and researchers on works-in-progress, with the aim of establishing an ongoing exchange between members of the Korbel community and innovative researchers from other institutions.

Upcoming Events 

Jason Lyall, Associate Professor of Political Science, Yale University

"Bombing to Lose? Airpower, Civilian Casualties, and the Dynamics of Violence in Counterinsurgency Wars"

April 2, 2015
12:00pm, Ben M. Cherrington Hall room 301
Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to

Are airstrikes an effective tool against insurgent organizations? Despite the question’s historical and contemporary relevance, we have few dedicated studies, and even less consensus, about airpower’s effectiveness in counterinsurgency wars. To answer this question, I draw on declassified United States Air Force records of nearly 23,000 airstrikes and non-lethal shows of force in Afghanistan (2006-11), satellite imagery, and a new SQL-enabled form of dynamic matching to estimate the causal effects of airstrikes on insurgent attacks over variable temporal and spatial windows. Evidence consistently indicates that airstrikes markedly increase insurgent attacks relative to non-bombed locations for at least 90 days after a strike. Civilian casualties play little role in explaining post-strike insurgent responses, however. Instead, these attacks appear driven by reputational concerns, as insurgent organizations step up their violence after air operations to maintain their reputations for resolve in the eyes of local populations.

Chris Blattman, Associate Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

April 9, 2015
12:00pm, Sié 150

Cassy Dorff, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy, Joseph Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

April 23, 2015
12:00pm, Sié 150

Steve Zech, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy, Joseph Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

May 14, 2015
12:00pm, Sié 150

Karen Ruth Adams,  Associate Professor, International Relations, University of Montana

May 28, 2015
12:00pm, Sié 150

Past Events

Devin Finn, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy, Joseph Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

"Participation in violent politics during Peru’s internal armed conflict: Ayacucho and Puno in comparative historical perspective"

March 26, 2015
12:00pm, Sié 150

In this paper, I examine the nature of political participation in Peru prior to and during its internal armed conflict. Participation is defined in terms of its range of articulation—the extent to which individuals and groups are organized, cohesive, and expressive. I argue that it is not necessarily how much people participate in politics—but how they do—that helps explain the nature of social and political relations between rebels and civilians. Attention to historical forms of mobilization in a given context – and their continuity and disjuncture with modes of participation observed during the war – has ontological implications for how we study violence and politics; these overlapping practices are critical to our understanding of participatory processes in democratic states. I suggest we adopt an ontology of violence and politics that facilitates studying citizens’ participation in violent acts as integrated or disjointed components of political and social practices. I argue that strongly articulated participation of peasants and civil society in one region of southern Peru ultimately prevented Sendero rebels from co-opting social struggles and gaining support. In Ayacucho, weak articulation of peasant interests and forms of political mobilization in the decades leading up to the outbreak of Sendero Luminoso’s violent guerra popular resulted in the rebels’ ability to penetrate social networks and wage a political struggle for minds and blood. Intensified violence against civilians occurred there in the mid-to-late 1980s, when peasant communities began turning against rebels’ oppressive rule. 


Zakia ShirazZakia Shiraz, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Warwick

"Writing in a Time of War: Journalism, Oversight and Colombia's Intelligence Community"

March 5, 2015
12:00pm, BMC 301

Arguably Colombia’s journalists have provided the main “intelligence oversight system” during a civil conflict has persisted for almost seven decades. Journalists in particular have suffered at the hands of all armed actors: narcotraffickers, insurgents, paramilitaries and the Colombian state. Despite the precarious nature of reporting, throughout the conflict journalists have risked their lives and persisted with their efforts to report human rights abuses. In recent years, the sectors of the Colombian press have extended their reporting of the murky activities of the Colombian intelligence services. In an era of whistleblowing and Wikileaks this is an important and neglected area of scholarship on the Colombian intelligence services. This paper seeks to explore the nature and texture of the relationship between the Colombian press and the country’s intelligence services through an analysis of recent intelligence scandals and abuse of power in which the press have questioned the very existence of some of the country’s intelligence bodies.


Jacob Shapiro

Jacob N. Shapiro, Associate Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University and Co-Director of the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project

"Choosing Ungoverned Space: Pakistan's Frontier Crimes Regulation"

February 5, 2015
12:00pm, Sié 150

Why do substantial swathes of territory within the boundaries of administratively competent sovereign states remain ungoverned for long periods of time? We explore this question in the context of a unique set of legal institutions in Pakistan that clearly demarcate spaces that are to be left ungoverned. During colonial rule, the British divided Pakistan into two distinct regions. The first was the Raj, where the British built modern political and bureaucratic institutions. In the second region, the British put a small number of political agents in charge of tribal areas and codified pre-colonial institutions in the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). Legal decisions were left to customary law carried out by local tribal councils, or jirgas. Though the area under FCR has steadily decreased, FCR is still in place in the tribal areas of Pakistan today. Pakistan therefore offers a prime case in why governments leave certain territory ungoverned. Using primary legal documents we create a dataset of when and where FCR applied in Pakistan between 1901 and 2012 at the sub-district level. We then exploit the differential impact of the Green Revolution on potential land revenue at the sub-district level to empirically model the choice to leave territory ungoverned. We find that sub districts that we would see a disproportionate increase in potential land revenue as a result of the Green Revolution are disproportionately more likely to have FCR removed following the advent of the Green Revolution.

Charli Carpenter, Professor of International Relations, Department of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Political / Science / Fiction and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots" 

January 22, 2015
12:00pm, Sié 150

A burgeoning literature in IR asserts there is a relationship between pop cultural artifacts and global policy processes, but this relationship is rarely explored empirically. This paper provides an evidence-based exploration of the relationship between science fiction narratives and global public policy in an important emerging political arena: norm-building efforts around the prohibition of fully autonomous weapons. Drawing on content analysis of media and campaign frames, new experimental survey data, interviews with advocacy elites, and participant-observation at campaign events, the paper explores causal and constitutive hypotheses about the impact of science fiction on 'real-world' politics.

Michael Rubin, PhD Candidate, Columbia University Political Science Department


January 15, 2015
12:00pm, Sié 150

Why do rebels use civilian-targeted violence to establish control over territory in some communities while in others rebels provide governance and public goods? In what forms of collective action do civilians engage to shape rebel behavior, and under what conditions are they effective? Recent events in peripheral regions of weak states from Iraq and Syria to Ukraine have made us painfully aware of the potential negative consequences for civilians when rebel organizations control territory. However, it is also clear that rebels elsewhere establish local governance otherwise crucially under-provided by a weak state: the LTTE in Tamil-majority Sri Lanka and the EPLF in pre-independence Eritrea provided security, justice, health and education services to constituent civilians. These counterexamples debunk the myth that territory outside state control is necessarily “ungoverned space.” Moreover, there appears to be tremendous variation in rebel governance and violence practices even across localities within a particular rebel group's sphere of influence during conflict.

Despite a welcome growth in the social scientific study of rebel governance, the literature leaves unexplained the role for civilian political action to constrain rebel rulers. In this chapter of the dissertation project, I offer an accountability theory of rebel group behavior in the context of state weakness or civil war. Civilian coordination capacity, or local communities’ ability to achieve collective action to serve common interests despite competing preferences, is crucial to explaining rebel behavior. Communities that enjoy high coordination capacity are those in which there exist strong institutions and norms for political consensus-building and conflict management across distributional conflict cleavages. These communities will be more successful at disciplining rebels: they will experience less predatory violence and receive higher levels of goods provision. In these communities, groups may coordinate on credible incentive schemes; pledging material support for rebels conditional on good governance and resistance conditional on predation. Through coordinating their demands and their responses to rebel actions, civilians increase their power to affect rebels’ decision-making process. 

Abdullah al-Arian, Assistant Professor of History at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar

December 4, 2014
12:00pm, Room 301

Idean Salehyan, Department of Political Science, University of North Texas
No News is Good News?: Mark and Recapture for Event Data When Reporting Probabilities are Less than One

September 18, 2014
12:00pm, Sié 150

Salehyan and his co-author Cullen S. Hendrix discuss a common, but often ignored, problem in event data: underreporting bias. When collecting data, it is often not the case that source materials capture all events of interest, leading to an undercount of the true number of events. To address this issue, they propose a common method first used to estimate the size of animal populations when a complete census is not feasible: mark and recapture. By taking multiple sources into consideration, one can estimate the rate of missing data across sources and come up with an estimate of the true number of events. To demonstrate the utility of the approach, they compare Associated Press and Agence France Press reports on conflict events, as contained in the Social Conflict in Africa Database. They show that these sources capture approximately 76% of all events in Africa, but that the non-detection rate declines dramatically when considering more significant events. They also show through regression analysis that deadly events, events of a larger magnitude, and events with government repression, among others, are significant predictors of overlapping reporting. Ultimately, the approach can be used to correct for undercounting in event data and to assess the quality of sources used.

Helga Malmin Binningsbø
Senior Researcher, PRIO

"Justice during armed conflict from 1949 through 2011: A new dataset"

May 13, 2014
12:00pm, Sié 150

Work in the field of transitional justice focuses on institutions implemented following political transitions or armed conflict. This research has often assumed that transitional justice is put in place once armed conflict has ended, yet often transitional justice is implemented while conflict is ongoing without any political transition or shift in power taking place. Research on during-conflict justice (DCJ) processes has been hindered by a lack of data. To address this limitation the authors have created a new global, cross-national dataset on the use of DCJ. In this paper they introduce the dataset which includes the use of trials, truth commissions, reparations, amnesties, purges, and exiles implemented during 156 internal armed conflicts from 1946 through 2011. In addition to determining the presence or absence of DCJ in each conflict year they have collected descriptive variables for each DCJ including information on the target of the process, its scope and timing. Following a presentation of the data, their paper draws attention to the conditions under which DCJ is used and the type of process most likely to be put in place. This dataset is of use to scholars working directly on the issue of transitional justice, as well as those interested in the tactics governments use during armed conflict.

BRANDON VALERIANO, "The Dynamics of Cyber Conflict between Rival Antagonists"

April 10, 2014
12:00pm, Sié 150

In 2011, the United States government declared a cyber attack similar to an act of war, punishable with conventional military means. Cyber engagements directed by one state against another are now considered part of the normal relations range of combat and conflict. Cyber is thought to be just another piece in the arsenal. This paper, co-authored with Ryan C. Maness, examines these processes and determines which rival states have been using cyber tactics and where these actions are directed. The authors also examine the level and seriousness of cyber interactions to discern the level of impact of the incident or dispute.

Damon Coletta and John Riley, "Improving Cooperation and Avoiding Breakdown in Complex Operations"

February 12, 2014
12:00pm, Sié 150

John Riley (DFPS/DVP, Kutztown University) and Damon Coletta (DFPS) presented a noontime seminar on "Improving Cooperation and Avoiding Breakdown in Complex Operations," at the Sie Center. The session was hosted by Chaired Professor Deborah Avant, director of the Sie Center and project lead for research on "Networks, Governance and Global Security." Discussion focused around recommendations appearing in a May 2013 Special Issue of a journal edited at University of Cambridge (UK), Small Wars & Insurgencies, in which Dr. Coletta had contributed an article. Drs. Riley and Coletta, along with former DFPS faculty member Lt. Pete Tolles (USN), led debate on state-centric versus networked-based approaches for improving performance of various entities within the international community in crisis situations such as Afghanistan and Iraq. The Sie Center audience of advanced graduate students split along career lines—nongovernmental organization (NGO) versus military—with military officers holding out greater optimism that state-centric approaches could be sufficiently adaptable to address complex crisis management operations.

Heather M. Roff Perkins, "Jus Ad Vim & Cyber Attacks: Governing the Use of Force in Cyberspace"

January 22, 2014
12:00pm, Sié 150

The debate on cyber warfare is characterized by two broad discussions: whether cyber attacks are governable through traditional just war principles, and if they are, to what extent the existing principles can adequately apply. This paper argues that the debate is misguided because cyber attacks occupy an area of coercive activity that sometimes amounts to force, but not necessarily "war" proper. I thus claim the just war tradition is not always the most appropriate framework for understanding how to govern this new type of weapon. Proffering a more nuanced view of cyber coercion, I contend we should classify cyber attacks into three discrete categories: cyber attacks with nonkinetic effects, cyber attacks with indirect kinetic effects, and cyber attacks that accompany or are precursors to kinetic war. When attacks are adjuncts or precursors to traditional kinetic war, they can be coopted into the traditional just war theory. However, the first two categories represent "uses of force," but are not "armed attacks" or "uses of armed force." They are thus better evaluated by jus ad vim - or force-short-of-war - framework that is more attuned to the ethical concerns of limited force.

Oliver Kaplan, "Explaining Recidivism of Ex-combatants in Colombia"

November 12, 2013
12:00pm, Sié 150

What determines the recidivism of ex-combatants from armed conflicts? In post-conflict settings around the world there has been growing interest in reintegration programs to prevent ex-combatants from returning to illegal activities or to armed groups, yet little is known about who decides to "go bad." In this paper, Oliver Kaplan and co-author Enzo Nussio, Department of Political Science, Universidad de Los Andes, draw on theories from criminology and conflict studies to develop hypotheses about which kinds of individuals are most likely to return to illegal activities and when. They evaluate various individual-level, community-level, and broader security environment predictors of recidivism by combining data from a representative survey of ex-combatants of various armed groups from Colombia with police records that indicate which among the respondents returned to belligerent or illegal activities. By analyzing data on the observed behaviors of ex-combatants, the authors avoid some of the validity pitfalls of existing studies of reintegration that only rely on perceptions about why ex-combatants might go astray. The results suggest which individual and community-level factors are most highly correlated with various kinds of recidivism and hold implications for programs and policies to successfully reintegrate ex-combatants into society. Interviews with ex-combatants provide additional evidence about their motivations for recidivism.

Noelle Brigden, "Improvised Communities: Transnational Practice and National Performances along the Migration Route through Mexico"

September 30, 2013

To travel undetected by state authorities and criminal predators, Central Americans pass as Mexican during their journey to the United States. This "passing" underscores the ambiguities of social roles, such as nationality. Over time, these performances partially reconstruct imagined communities, blurring the boundaries between foreigners and citizens. However, International Relations scholarship tends to overlook how uncoordinated everyday practice complicates state control of territory in a globalized world. By tracing the co-constitutive relationship between migration policing, national performances and transnational routes, this paper reveals the makeshift nature of identity. In so doing, it argues for the continued inclusion of ethnography as a method for exploring the dynamic relationship between territory, state and nation. 

Tricia Olsen, "Rethinking Collective Action: The Case of Microfinance in Brazil and Mexico"

May 17, 2013

Microfinance—the provision of small loans to low-income individuals—has gained substantial attention from both domestic and international actors because of its perceived capacity to alleviate poverty and inequality. Though the basic premise of microfinance is widely accepted, there is no consensus on microfinance regulation, which has important implications for not only who has access to microfinance services but also for the sustainability of microfinance institutions. In previous research, Professor Olsen shows that a focus on power and political contestation around microfinance points to the importance of domestic interests and organized groups in explaining microfinance regulatory outcomes.This study builds on that work and provides important steps in furthering our understanding about the variation in microfinance regulation. In particular, it asks: Why do domestic actors organize to shape regulation in some countries but not in others? Once organized, what determines their effectiveness? Contributing to the collective action literature, this study asserts that the formation of microfinance associations is a function of actors' ability to access the state and is not determined by its size or homogeneity, as traditional explanations would suggest. Parsing out collective action from what she terms "collective influence," this research demonstrates that, contingent upon organizing, microfinance associations' strength emerges from the innovative tactics they employ.

Séverine Autesserre, "Peacebuilders: An Ethnography of International Intervention"

April 26, 2013

Séverine Autesserre presented her work-in-progress "Peacebuilders: An Ethnography of International Intervention" on April 26. Why do international peace interventions so often fail to reach their full potential? Based on several years of ethnographic inquiry in conflict zones around the world, she demonstrated that everyday elements—such as the expatriates' social habits, standard security procedures, and habitual approaches to collecting information on violence – strongly impact the effectiveness of intervention efforts.

Lindsay Heger, "Negotiating with Rebel Governments: The Effect of Service Provision on Conflict Negotiations"

February 4, 2013

In her paper and presentation, Dr. Lindsay Heger, Research Associate at the One Earth Future Foundation, explored the question: When rebels provide social services, do they have more leverage negotiating terms of a peace deal? The literature suggests that service-providing groups may, on average, have a wider base of support and a more centralized organizational structure. Heger and co-author Danielle Jung argue that these features deter potential spoilers from breaking away from the organization during negotiation processes. This, in turn, makes governments more willing to engage in negotiations since the threat from spoilers is smaller. Thus, service providing rebels are more likely to engage in stable negotiation processes compared to non-providers. This paper analyzes these propositions by gathering service provision data on nearly 400 terrorist and groups and their involvement in and behavior during peace talks. It also serves as an introduction to a larger project about the implications of rebel service provision on conflict outcomes.

Eugenio Cusumano, "The Bureaucratic Politics of Outsourcing Security: The Privatization of Diplomatic Protection in the US and the UK"

October 22, 2012

Eugenio Cusumano, Fulbright-Schuman Scholar at the Korbel School of International Studies, will present in the second installment of the Sié Research Seminar Series. His research focuses on the global private military and security industry. In his paper, co-authored with Christopher Kinsey, he argues that states' increasing resort to private military and security companies (PMSCs) does not merely distort the balance of power between different branches of government, strengthening the executive vis-à-vis the legislative. It also redistributes authority and resources within the executive branch, changing the relationship between civilian foreign policy bureaucracies and military organizations. Although the use of PMSCs provides foreign policy bureaucracies with new avenues to pursue their parochial interests, a scholarly analysis of the bureaucratic politics of outsourcing is still missing. His paper probes the hypothesis that the outsourcing of diplomatic security in the US and the UK has been affected by bureaucratic competition and inter-agency rivalries, responding to foreign policy bureaucracies and development agencies' attempt to maximize their institutional autonomy vis-à-vis military organizations.

Oliver Kaplan, "Community Counts: The Social Reintegration of Ex-combatants in Colombia" 

September 10, 2012

Oliver Kaplan, Lecturer at the Korbel School, will present in the first installment of the Sié Center's monthly Research Seminar Series. His research, conducted with with Enzo Nussio, analyzes the determinants of the social reintegration of ex-combatants from armed conflicts. Social and political participation is seen as a critical factor for preventing civil war recurrence. Participation can help ex-combatants feel socially fulfilled and acceptance by their communities can reduce their needs to maintain social connections to their former armed group networks and bosses. Kaplan and Nussio hypothesize that the strength of community organization and social relations among residents are associated with increased participation of ex-combatants in their communities. They test various individual, community and environmental factors using data from a survey of randomly sampled ex-combatants from Colombia, a survey of ordinary civilians, and observational datasets. The results suggest which ex-combatants are most likely to socially reintegrate and where. The results also provide insight on how ex-combatants' levels of participation compare with that of ordinary civilians. Kaplan and Nussio also examine how the social participation of ex-combatants and related social reintegration programs in Colombia may contribute to meeting broader definitions of successful reintegration.