My research interests in Political Science lie at the intersection of Comparative Politics and International Relations with a particular focus on political violence, nationalism, and colonial legacies. In pedagogy, my research interests focus on skill development and course design.


“Educated into Violence: The Colonial Origins of Separatist Rebellion”


Why do some separatists rebel sooner than others? New states are found to be more prone to violence than older ones because they are more likely to experience periods of political instability and weakness. Independence is a specific context in which states exhibit these characteristics, yet not all groups take advantage of this opportunity and attempt to secede. Rationalist explanations of rebellion which focus on factors of wealth or opportunity over-emphasize the ability of groups to take advantage of certain moments. Furthermore, rationalist theories of separatist rebellion under-emphasize how groups perceive wealth or opportunity.  Emotive explanations emphasize the importance of subjective determination and relative conditions. Yet while these studies point to political exclusion or perceptions of backwardness on the eve of independence as explanations for separatist rebellion, they do not account for how groups end up in that position or why they come to this conclusion, respectively. Without considering education, these explanations miss what shapes the underlying conditions for rebellion that affect group positionality and perceptions of it. What students learn influences the nature of the grievances that they assume are true. This content also influences opportunities for social mobility, particularly when careers are dependent upon specific skills or languages. Furthermore, schools can make mobilization easier by functioning as sites for recruitment and assembly.

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Through a combination of interviews and archival data from colonial offices, I utilize process-tracing in two cases: the Moros in the Philippines and the Karen in Burma. In order to understand the logic of when rebellion occurs, I address two necessary conditions for why it occurs: development of a national identity and perceptions of inclusion based on this identity. I argue that colonial education policies structure group perceptions of inclusion in the new state. Colonial education policies structure the development of these two conditions in post-colonial states, becoming particularly salient in the lead-up to independence. Penetrative education policies crowd out competing local identities. These policies encourage the development of a national identity by heightening the attachment of minority groups to the colonizer and strengthening bonds within the same community. As a result, rebellion tends to happen sooner because it is easier for groups to identify conditions of discrimination since they are more likely to be targeted by the majority and often nurture grievances from being excluded from employment in the newly independent state. In contrast, shallow education policies leave room for existing local identities. Shallow education policies in the colonial period do not heighten reliance on or association with the colonizer and instead promote political fragmentation within groups. Without encouraging the development of a national identity, shallowly educated groups are less likely to feel targeted on the basis of that identity. This ultimately delays rebellion.

Working Papers

  • “Government Differentiation of Rebel Groups for Policy Purposes in the Philippines”
  • “Contrasting Onsets of Nationalist Rebellion in the Philippine Colony”
  • “Where’s the Debate? Addressing Skill Development for Essay Writing” with Misbah Hyder
  • “How to Teach Comparative Politics” with Meg K. Guliford, Julie A. George, and Nandini Deo
  • “Teaching Across Differences: A Multi-Faceted Approach to Addressing Diverse Classrooms” with Nathan K. Chan

Research Experience

Country Expert for Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) – Philippines

Graduate Research Assistant – UC Irvine (May 2018-July 2018)

  • Prepared redacted transcripts for Dr. Hardt’s project on institutional memory & the Lessons Learned process in NATO

Graduate Research Assistant – UC Irvine (August 2017)

  • Utilized NSF grant funding for a project on assessing gender discrimination in graduate student syllabi

Graduate Research Assistant – UC Irvine (June 2016-Aug. 2016)

  • Utilized Dr. Hardt’s CGPACS funding for a project on institutional memory & the Lessons Learned process in NATO
  • Created original charts using data from coded interviews
  • Edited final book chapters
  • Created relationship map of NATO officials interviewed
  • Enhanced knowledge of social network analysis & snowballing interview techniques

Graduate Research Assistant – UC Irvine (June 2015-December 2015)

  • Utilized Dr. Hardt’s Fulbright & department funding for a project on institutional memory and the Lessons Learned process in NATO
  • Transcribed interviews with NATO officials
  • Co-created a codebook to code interview segments
  • Oversaw a team of undergraduate students in the transcribing and coding process
  • Utilized Transcriva 2 and Nvivo for transcribing and coding, respectively
  • Enhanced knowledge of qualitative content analysis & elite interviewing


  • Research Methods: Content Analysis; Comparative Historical Analysis; Elite Interviews; Process-Tracing; Archiving
  • Pedagogy: course design, peer evaluation, diversity training, methods of assessment
  • Languages: English (fluent); Tagalog (fluent); Spanish (intermediate proficiency)
  • Programs: Prezi, Transcriva 2; NVIVO 11; STATA & SPSS (working knowledge)