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Sunrise over the Leonid Bykov memorial statue in Kyiv, Ukraine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome!

I am an Associate Professor of Political Science at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California at San Diego.  My main area of research is comparative state-building and civil war settlement dynamics.  I am also very interested in methodologies for the safe and transparent collection of data in war zones and authoritarian states.  I have lived and worked extensively in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, written about Somalia from an off-shore vantage point, and am currently researching a book on Ukraine's civil war. 

 

 

My CV can be downloaded here.

Academic Research

 

My book, Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States,  was published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press in the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics series.  In 2016 the book was honored by the Central Eurasian Studies Society with the Best Book Award in the Social Sciences, and in 2017 received Furniss Book Award from the the Mershon Center for International Security Studies in 2017,  awarded annually to “an author whose first book makes an exceptional contribution to the study of national and international security.”  To learn more, click here.

 

Peer-Reviewed Articles

"Spies Like Us" (with C. Schuster), Ethnography, Accepted & Forthcoming 2017.

"With Friends Like These: Brinkmanship and Chain-Ganging in Russia's Near Abroad" (with D. Maliniak), Security Studies, Summer/Fall 2016, Vol. 25, No. 4, 1-23.  Replication data.

"Did Georgian Voters Desire Military Escalation in 2008?  Experiments & Observations" (with D. Maliniak), Journal of Politics, January 2016, Volume 78, No. 1, 265-280.  Replication data.

"Language Hierarchies in Georgia: An Experimental Approach" (with T. Blauvelt and C. Berglund), Caucasus Survey, February 2016, Vol. 4, Issue 1, 44-62.  Replication data.

"Representative Surveys in Insecure Environments: A Case Study of Mogadishu, Somalia" (with N. Lidow), Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology, 2014, Vol. 2, No. 1, 78-95. 

"Intended and Unintended Consequences of Democracy Promotion Assistance to Georgia After The Rose Revolution" (with D. Hidalgo), Research and Politics, April-June 2014, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1-13.  Replication data.

"Commitment Problems or Bidding Wars?"  Rebel Fragmentation as Peace-Building", Journal of Conflict Resolution, April-June 2012, Vol. 56, No. 1, 118-149.  Replication data.

 

Book Chapters

"Consolidating a Weak State After Civil War: A Tajik Fable" in J. Heathershaw and E. Schatz, Logics of State Weakness in Eurasia, University of Pittsburgh Press (Accepted and Forthcoming 2017).

"Prison States and Games of Chicken" in S. Desposato, Ethics and Experiments: Problems and Solutions for Social Scientists and Policy Professionals, 2015, Taylor and Francis.

 

Working Papers

"Alternative Facts: Social Media as Propaganda in Post-Maidan Ukraine"

"Ukraine's Civil War"

"Clans, Coalitions, and Civilian Welfare After State Failure"

"Fear of Anarchy or Fear of a Predatory State?: Using Survey Non-Response To Assess Somali State Legitimacy"

"Acute Fear & Survey Behaviors: A Mogadishu Case Study"

Research Agenda

Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States, which is the first major product of my research program, treats the breakup of the Soviet Union as laboratory for the comparison of modern civil war settlements.  In the early 1990s, against a backdrop of Russian state failure, there was no third-party capable of providing credible security guarantees to losing factions in the post-Soviet space and no real disarmament by militias.  How were wars settled, then?

While acknowledging a role for inherited institutions and geopolitics, my multi-method investigation, combining simple game theory with ethnographic observation, suggests that non-liberal, bottom up mechanisms designed to remain invisible to Russian and Western donors -- side-switching, extortion, and bribery -- were the basis of the political order that endures in Georgia and Tajikistan today. 

It is available at fine book sellers everywhere.  To read reviews and published excerpts, click here.

A number of separate articles related to Georgia's social structure, social perceptions of democracy promotion assistance in the South Caucasus, Tajikistan's peace settlement, and the August War of 2008, have been published in journals such as Security Studies and the Journal of Conflict Resolution.  Daniel Maliniak and I used my Georgia data to publish a programmatic critique of the influx of survey experiments in IR in the Journal of Politics.


Warlords emphasizes that great power unity or disagreement can set scope conditions for the kinds of warlord bargains that are sustainable.  Warlords have less room to maneuver if the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council agree on how post-war domestic politics ought to look (Tajikistan) and warlords have more room to maneuver if there is obvious friction between the great powers' visions (Georgia).  But how do wars end in places where none of the P-5 are willing to commit substantial resources to facilitate a settlement? 

To address this question, my second research project was a careful investigation of war termination processes in East Africa (Somalia).  I was responsible for overseeing the first representative survey of Somalia's capital city, Mogadishu, in 25 years, followed by a longitudinal panel telephone survey conducted by Somali-language enumerators in San Diego via Skype over multiple rounds.  Making inferences from survey data collected against a backdrop of extreme violence -- where survey subjects infer that the data is going to be used to justify aid flows to assist state consolidation -- requires that the research team be attuned to the possibility that fear is altering survey participation and/or survey behaviors by subjects.  My colleague Nicholai Lidow and I opted to open-source our sampling methodology in The Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology, so that it might be of immediate assistance to other evidence-based humanitarian missions.  I was invited to speak on the project at the Joint Meeting of the American Statistical Association in Seattle, Washington in 2015 (described here).  Three papers using these data are currently under review (click here if you would like to see working papers), and the project is discussed in a reflective chapter on research ethics published in an edited volume on the subject by my colleague Scott Desposato


My third major project is a book about contemporary Ukraine.  At the time that Warlords went to press, I predicted that future Ukrainian politics would likely be characterized by a "partial incorporation equilibrium" -- a situation in which the territory of the state remains divided indefinitely because some warlords correctly calculate that they have already secured a better deal outside the state (in this case, as in the case of Abkhazia, with assistance from Russia) than the governing coalition in the capital state can possibly offer them.  In November 2016, at the Danyliw Seminar at the University of Ottawa, I discussed the geopolitical context for the ongoing civil war in Ukraine. 

The empirical question that will motivate my second book is whether large inflows of Western aid to Ukraine, combined with Russian security guarantees in the Donbas region, can deescalate the war and facilitate a "full incorporation" equilibrium.  Research for the book, including documenting militia mobilization and subsequent integration into the Ukrainian state, as well as electoral dynamics and political re-alignment in the Ukrainian polity, is underway.  If you would like to know more of my thoughts on Ukraine's civil war, click here

Teaching

I teach at the School for Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California at San Diego.  Substantive classes for MA students focus on topics relevant to international security for future practitioners and citizens. I am currently developing a course for Ph.D. students on field research strategies in conflict zones.

Students exit my courses with an unusually high sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  Rather than cherry-pick favorable comments, here is the full set of my anonymized course evaluations for all solo-taught courses during the 2015-6 Academic Year.

My teaching philosophy is summarized here

I have advised two political science seniors who received high honors in the major.  I have also been an advisor for seven successfully-defended Ph.D. dissertations in both political science and economics. 

I have also served as the Academic Chair of the Global Leadership Initiative at UCSD since 2014. 

 

 

The Security Studies Group Mess, 2016.  I have been twice honored with an Academic Mentor Award from this student-led group.  I was also voted "Favorite Professor On Campus For Military Students" by the UCSD Veterans Association in 2016.

The Security Studies Group Mess, 2016.  I have been twice honored with an Academic Mentor Award from this student-led group.  I was also voted "Favorite Professor On Campus For Military Students" by the UCSD Veterans Association in 2016.

Served On PhD Committees For...

 

Christopher Fariss, Political Science, UCSD (2013).  Assistant Professor, University of Michigan.  Website

Cameron Brown, Political Science, UCSD (2014).  AIPAC (Jerusalem)

Blake McMahon, Political Science, UCSD (2015).  U.S. Air Force Research Institute.  Website

Kara Downey, Political Science, Stanford University (2015).  Bay Area Private Sector

Will Hobbs, Political Science, UCSD (2016).  Postdoctoral Fellowship, Northeastern-Harvard. Website

David Lindsey, Political Science, UCSD (2016).  Assistant Professor, Baruch College (CUNY).  Website

Zachary Breig, Economics, UCSD (2017). Assistant Professor, School of Economics at the University of Queensland.

 

These students produce extremely high-caliber work and I am very proud of them.  Follow the links to see what I mean.

Contact

If you want to reach me, email: jdriscoll@ucsd.edu.

 

Mailing Address:

 

Jesse Driscoll

C/O School of Global Policy and Strategy (UCSD)

9500 Gilman Drive

La Jolla, CA, 92093

 

 

Sunrise over the Black Sea in Sukhumi, Abkhazia.

Sunrise over the Black Sea in Sukhumi, Abkhazia.