I am an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. My research explores questions of governance in fragile states with a geographical focus on Central and South Asia and the former Soviet Union. My first book, Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. A second book manuscript, Land, the State, and War: Property Rights and Political Order in Afghanistan (with Ilia Murtazashvili) is under review. I am currently working on several projects related to the (unexpected) role of bureaucracy in fragile states, social institutions in weak states, as well as the geopolitics of Central Eurasia.
My research reflects extensive field experience living among those communities I study: I have lived on the ground for five years in former Soviet Central Asia—primarily in Uzbekistan—and about three years in Afghanistan.I have collected diverse types of original data employng a wide range of tools to answer important policy questions ranging from ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, focus group discussions, public opinion surveys, as well as field experiments.
In addition to my academic endeavors, I remain deeply engaged in public policy. For three years, I served as a democracy and governance officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and for more than a year as a Senior Research Officer at the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit. I have served as a consultant for a number of organization including the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Defense, the United Nations Development Program, and UNICEF. I frequently lecture for the Department of Defense’s Leadership Development Program for Sustained Peace to U.S. and foreign military officers deploying for missions overseas.
I received a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in in 1997, an M.A. in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Wisconsin—Madison in 2006, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin—Madison in 2009.