Large-scale agricultural investments, employment opportunities and communal conflict

with Lisa Hoffmann and Jann Lay


The global demand for resources can have negative effects on local communities in the places of production. We investigate how large-scale agricultural investments (LSAIs) influence the risk of communal conflict. We assess a mechanism that links LSAIs to conflict through interethnic competition over access to plantation employment. Our analyses focus on the case of Liberia. We measure communal conflict with joy-of-destruction games (JDG). We first investigate associations between access to employment and JDG outcomes---comparing villages that are located below/above a distance threshold at which travel costs to plantations equal daily wages of plantation workers. We find higher levels of destruction in communities with better access to LSAI employment. We then analyze effects of randomized inter-ethnic constellations in JDG. Contrary to our expectations, we find no evidence of more destructive behavior in minority vs. majority constellations. Exploratory descriptive analyses tentatively suggest a link between LSAIs, labor migration and communal conflict.


Right-wing terror, public backlash, and voting preferences for the far right

with Felix Haaß and Julian Voß


Over the last decade, many western countries have experienced a surge in right-wing violence and a growing public support for populist radical right parties (PRRP). Previous research suggests that right-wing political mobilization can inspire right-wing violence. However, we know little on the opposite direction of this relationship: how does right-wing violence influence voting preferences for the far right? In this research note, we implement an ``unexpected event during survey'' design to investigate this question. We draw on data from daily surveys on party preferences to analyze temporal shifts in support for the right-wing populist \textit{Alternative für Deutschland }(AfD) before and after the most intense terrorist attack in recent German history. Our findings indicate that right-wing terrorism can have substantive but short-lived negative effects on public support for PRRP. Results of exploratory analyses are in line with the argument that these effects result from a public backlash against PRRP that alienates potential voters.


The Political Effects of Witnessing State Atrocities: Evidence from the Nazi Death Marches

with Felix Haaß, Christian Gläßel and Adam Scharpf

How does witnessing regime atrocities influence the political attitudes of bystanders? We argue that observing regime violence against innocent civilians causes psychological dissonance between the beliefs about the regime and the witnessed moral transgression. As a result, regime support should decrease among bystanders of state atrocities. We analyze original, highly disaggregated archival data from the Nazi death marches at the end of World War II, which confronted ordinary German citizens with the regime's crimes. We find that locations with higher victim numbers had lower vote shares for right-wing nationalist parties after the war. Supporting our proposed mechanism, we show that 1) this effect was strongest when Nazi crimes were at the center of public discourse, and 2) that witnessing Nazi atrocities was associated with individuals' rejection of Hitler twenty years later. The findings have implications for understanding democratization prospects and people's nostalgia for fallen autocrats.


Long-Term Sequences of State-Building and Violent Conflict


A large body of research demonstrates that state capacity is an important correlate of intra-state conflict. However, similar levels of present-day state capacity can result from different historical trajectories of state-building. This paper investigates how the spatio-temporal patterns of long-term expansion of state authority and control can influence current levels of violent unrest. In particular, I argue that specific sequences of state-building can increase the present-day risk of violent conflict: geographical obstacles can isolate territories from state-building processes for extended periods, strengthening non-state institutions. The risk of violence increases once the state has accumulated sufficient capabilities to close this state-building gap. The extension of authority into peripheral territories triggers resistance from among local elites that can mobilize their constituencies against the central state. I investigate this argument in a mixed-methods design that exploits exogenous variation in early state-penetration in Nepal. Areas located below the Himalayan foothills were heavily Malaria-infested preventing the state from establishing meaningful presence until the implementation of a malaria eradication program in the 1950s. I make use of this specificity in Regression Discontinuity (RD) estimations and a qualitative process tracing approach. Findings lend support to the primary arguments of the paper.