Research Interests:

South Asia, Latin America, political participation, gender, state and non-state governance, indigenous politics

Working Papers:

State-evading Solutions to Violence: Organized Crime and Governance in Indigenous Mexico - With Kristóf Gosztonyi and Beatriz Magaloni (Stanford). R&R at American Political Science Review.

The monopoly of violence in the hands of the state is conceived as the principal vehicle to generate order. A problem with this vision is that parts of the state and its law enforcement apparatus often become extensions of criminality rather than solutions to it. We argue that one solution to this dilemma is to "opt out from the state." Using a multi-method strategy combining extensive qualitative research, quasi-experimental statistical analyses, and survey data, the paper demonstrates that indigenous communities in Mexico are better able to escape predatory criminal rule when they are legally allowed to carve a space of autonomy from the state through the institution of "usos y costumbres." We demonstrate that these municipalities are more immune to violence than similar localities where regular police forces and local judiciaries are in charge of law enforcement and where mayors are elected through multiparty elections rather than customary practices.

Roadblocks Remain: Constraints to Women's Political Participation in Pakistan - With Natalya Rahman (Stanford)

How can governments encourage political participation by all? In this study, we ask why certain groups are less likely to vote solely based on where they are assigned to vote and argue that mobility plays an important role. We focus on Pakistan, the world’s sixth-most populous country. Despite instituting reforms like single-gender polling stations, Pakistan is among the lowest-ranked countries for women’s political participation. This paper uses 2018 polling station data to show that mixed-gender polling stations increase women’s turnout. We also present descriptive findings to show that chance assignments to certain polling stations make women, but not men, more likely to turn out. We then use a survey experiment to test one possible explanation—mobility. Constraints to mobility have been shown to negatively impact women’s educational and labor force choices, but their impact on women’s political participation has not been directly tested. We find that when women’s mobility is constrained by a lack of male accompaniment or they expect to travel along a predominantly male route, their likelihood to turn out decreases. We also find that women are more likely to vote in areas familiar to them (i.e., primary schools where they drop their children and girls’ schools they attended). Our study implies that strategies to increase women’s political participation in developing democracies should take the role of women’s mobility seriously.

Can Party Elites Shape the Rank and File? Evidence from a Recruitment Campaign in India - With Saad Gulzar (Stanford), Durgesh Pathak (Aam Aadmi Party), and Aliz Tóth (Stanford)

  • Working paper on request

Recruiting thousands of ground campaigners, the rank and file of political parties, before elections is typical of recent elections across the world. Theory argues that party leaders have limited leverage in shaping the rank and file because of budget constraints. We examine this claim with a field experiment carried out by an Indian party that invited 1% of a 13-million person electorate to join its rank and file. Compared to status-quo recruitment, we find that specific levers elites can pull meaningfully affect both the size and composition of the rank and file. Additionally, in contrast to concerns that elite efforts will only yield few and poor-quality workers, we find that the size, diversity (both gender and ethnicity), and competence (education and previous experience) of the rank and file can all be improved. A three-year follow-up survey suggests that elite effort shapes the long-term development of parties. Our results highlight the important role elites play in party-building from the ground up.

Work in Progress:

A Field Experiment to Improve Women's Mobility in Pakistan (with Natalya Rahman; full funding secured and RCT to launch in 2022)

Can Traditional Governance Adapt to Diversity? Evidence from Religious Expulsions in Mexico

According to Tradition: Experimental Evidence on Compliance and Legitimacy in Indigenous Mexico