About Me

After having received my PhD in Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2015, I moved to Sweden to take a position as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) at the University of Gothenburg. I contribute my expertise in survey methodology, experimental design, and fieldwork management to a team of international researchers in conducting large-N, locally representative surveys (5,000+) in the developing world. Since 2006, she has been studying and conducting fieldwork in the Middle East across contexts as diverse as Jordan, Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia, Oman, and Egypt. I have also trained and led research teams on the ground in the East African countries of Malawi, Zambia, and Kenya. My most recently funded projects include a multi-method, comparative study of the integration of Syrian migrants into Jordan, Turkey, and Sweden over 6 years; a study on the drivers of forgiveness versus revenge among diverse groups in Iraq employing 3 large-N surveys and experiments; and surveys in East Africa examining the interaction between social institutions and local governance across issues of authority and legitimacy, vote buying and clientelism, as well as stereotypes and inequalities. Kristen’s research has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Scholar Program, the Swedish Research Council, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Political Science Association (APSA), among others. Her work on reconciliation in post-Islamic State Iraq has also received the Franklin L. Burdette Pi Sigma Alpha award for the best paper presented at the APSA 2019 annual meeting, the largest annual gathering of political scientists in the world. She has forthcoming or already published work in Comparative Politics, World Development, Mediterranean Politics, Survey Practice, the Oxford Handbook of Politics in Muslim Societies, The Washington Post, and Carnegie’s Middle East blog Sada, among others.

My dissertation research employs a mixed method approach and a novel dataset to explore how autocrats utilize elections to maintain ethnically splintered political support through redistribution. I analyze the full parliamentary election results of Jordan from 1989-2013, leveraging historical shifts between three different types of electoral institutions to examine their effect on the formation of successful voter coalitions. Constituent service casework logs of parliamentarians containing thousands of requests they make on behalf of their constituents to the regime and over 150 interviews collected during fieldwork in Jordan provide evidence that multimember districts are engender tribal voting and ethnic favoritism in parliamentary provision of state goods and services in contrast to single member districts where parliamentarians cobbled together more ethnically diverse support coalitions and tribalism does not explain their service provision patterns.

A nationwide survey in Jordan (N~1,500) I ran in April of 2014 in collaboration with the Governance and Local Development (GLD) Program at Yale University and Professor Ellen Lust (University of Gothenburg) and Lindsay Benstead (Portland State University) bolsters these findings demonstrating that among participants registered in multimember districts, those who have had a tribal Member of Parliament in the past are more likely to participate in elections than those who have not, whereas a tribal connection does not determine turnout in single-member districts. This research highlights the importance of political analysis at the sub-national level. My data demonstrates that electoral institutions play a meaningful role in shaping entrenched inequalities in access to government services and life opportunities for the citizens living under the rule of dictators.

My broader research agenda includes understanding service provision in the developing world, ethnic politics, clientelism and vote buying, formal vs. informal authority structures, Middle Eastern and African politics, survey methods, and experimental design. This research has received over $150,000 worth of funding from the Swedish Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the American Political Science Association, the Social Science Research Council, the American Center of Oriental Research, the National Security Education Program, the Institute of International Education, and the Project on Middle East Political Science, among others. At times, I also apply my country expertise in Jordan and Kuwait as well as training in survey methodology and statistics to work with consulting groups.

In March and April of 2016, the GLD program at Gothenburg implemented a face-to-face, tablet-based survey in Malawi, where I spent three weeks in the field managing an in-depth regional study alongside the household survey of approximately 8,000 Malawians. This survey includes the Local Governance Performance Index (LGPI) aimed at creating a metric for investigating the causes of sub-national variation in government service provision and interactions between governance and social institutions at the local level. Within this survey we also embedded a number of experiments that seek to understand sources of legitimacy for various types of leaders, different aspects of vote buying and clientelism, drivers of voter preferences, and gender dynamics as well as the effects of matrilineal versus patrilineal tribal structures on political outcomes. In 2019, we returned to Malawi and expanded the study to Zambia and Kenya, collecting around 20,000 additional interviews. In 2020, a phone survey on the Covid-19 pandemic built off of these previous studies resulted in two additional datasets from Malawi and Zambia of an additional ~7,000 responses. 

Skills

Hands-on experience executing public opinion polls in Jordan, Malawi, Iraq, Kenya and Zambia requiring the development of following skills: survey design and analysis, project management, collaboration with international actors, communication between funders and survey providers.

  • Skilled in Stata, html, and C# programming languages, with some knowledge of R.
  • Extensive training in qualitative and quantitative research methods including in-depth interviewing techniques, questionnaire expertise and survey methodology, and experimental design. 
  • In-depth knowledge of tribal dynamics, local politics, and elections under authoritarianism gleaned from over 150 interviews and election monitoring in Jordan (2013) and Kuwait (2012 and 2013).
  • Native English speaker; advanced written and spoken formal and Levantine Arabic; intermediate knowledge of French; beginner’s knowledge of Swedish.
  • Intimate understanding of the culture and worldview of Near Eastern and North African societies gained from years of residency in multiple countries throughout this region.