Research

Publications:

  1. The Autocrat’s Dilemma: The Politics of Ethnic Policing.” CP: Newsletter of the Comparative Politics Organized Section of the American Political Science Association, 28 (1): 24–29.

  2. Deterring Threat and Settling Scores: How Coups Influence Respect for Physical Integrity Rights” (with Daniel Arnon) (Forthcoming) Conflict Management and Peace Science.

  3. Rebels and the Regime: The Politics of Civilian Victimization” (Forthcoming) in the Journal of Global Security Studies.

  4. Street-Level Repression: Protest, Policing, and Dissent in Uganda” (Forthcoming) in the Journal of Conflict Resolution.

  5. “How Repression Affects Public Perceptions of Police: Evidence from Uganda” (Accepted for publication in the Journal of Conflict Resolution).

Selected Media Publications:

  1. Autocratic governments are using coronavirus as pretext to clamp down on opponents,” Washington Post (July 2020).

  2. The Political Backlash of Repressive Policing,” Political Violence at a Glance (June 2020)

  3. Ugandan police are attacking protesters. Here’s how that backfires” (with Brandon Berhlendorf) Washington Post (January 2019).

  4. Do coups improve human rights in countries like Gabon?” with Daniel Arnon, Democracy in Africa (January 2019).

  5. The Curse of Doing Nothing for Aleppo” with Tobias Winright, Sojourners (December 2016).

Working Papers:

  1. Police and Co-ethnic Bias: Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment in Uganda”  (under review).

    Why do people cooperate with police in multiethnic societies? For scholars of comparative politics and international relations, examining the effects of ethnicity on patterns of conflict, cooperation, and state repression remains a foundational endeavor. Studies show individuals who share ethnicity are more likely to cooperate to provide public goods. Yet we do not know whether co-ethnic cooperation extends to the provision of law and order and, if so, why people might cooperate more with co-ethnic police officers. In the context of policing, I theorize co-ethnic bias affects interactions between people and the police because individuals prefer officers who share their ethnicity and fear repression more when encountering non-co-ethnic officers. Using a conjoint experiment in Uganda, I demonstrate that individuals prefer reporting crimes to co-ethnic officers, even after controlling for potential confounders. Broadly, this result is strongest among individuals with no trust in the police or the political authorities. These findings have important implications for the politics of policing, conflict, and social order.

  2. The Limits of Linkage: The Political Economy of Trade Linkage” with Eric Reinhardt (Under Review)

    Recent scholarship contends that linkage – embedding human rights conditionality in trade agreements – can improve human rights in developing countries. This paper challenges that perspective. Specifically, we argue that states have little incentive to enforce human rights conditions in trade agreements due to their trade, investment, and security interests, and so cannot credibly commit to doing so. The result is that a partner with a poor or worsening human rights record may be under-sanctioned; and one with an improving or good record may nonetheless be over-sanctioned, depending on the partner’s trade, investment, and security interests. We examine these claims in the context of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a unilateral trade preference program with robust human rights conditions, created in 2000 by the United States for up to 49 potentially eligible Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) states. US decisions to terminate an SSA state’s AGOA beneficiary status are determined strongly by US trade, investment, and security in- terests. If an AGOA country is highly non-democratic or has experienced a successful coup d’état, the US is more likely to end its AGOA beneficiary status. However, the country’s human rights record has a less consistent and weaker effect. We find these results unsurprising, in light of well-established theories of trade politics, but damaging to a vital assumption of the perspective that trade linkage can improve human rights standards.

  3. “Securing the Ballot or the Voter: The Politics of Policing Election Violence.”

    Why do some individuals turn to police for safety when threatened by election violence but not others? I argue representation within government institutions  conditions who reports threats of electoral violence, depending on coethnic ties to police and the incumbent. Using nationally representative survey data from Kenya prior to the 2017 elections and data on the ethnic composition of the Kenya National Police Service, I find individuals are more likely to report threats of election violence to police when they share ethnic identities with the incumbent regime and their coethnics are represented in the police. This paper contributes by disaggregating the role of government in election violence to examine variation in how civilians respond to police — the main actor responsible for upholding electoral security and perpetrating election violence.

  4. Neighborhood Watches and Reporting Crime in Uganda: Evidence from a List and Endorsement Experiment EGAP ID: 20180605AC.

Book Project (In preparation):

  1. “The Repression Dilemma: The Politics of Policing in Multi-ethnic Societies” (Under Review)

    Why do some people cooperate with police in the provision of law and order in autocracies while others are not even willing to report crimes to police? Drawing on a principal-agent framework, I theorize autocrats face a tradeoff between policing effectiveness and repressive compliance. This tradeoff has implications for how citizens interact with police. By developing and testing the theory in Uganda, a multiethnic autocracy, I argue regimes partially solve their security tradeoff by employing ethnicity as a social radar, strategically staffing police officers. Although using outsiders to police communities increases repressive compliance, it exacerbates coethnic bias decreasing citizens’ willingness to cooperate with police in the provision of law and order. Consequently, actions autocrats take to ensure police are willing to comply with orders to repress decrease citizens’ cooperation in the provision of law and order and weaken one of the defining features of the state. To test the observable implications of the theory, I use a multi-method approach. This approach includes a series of preregistered survey experiments (a nationally representative list experiment, conjoint design experiment in Gulu district, and a nationally representative endorsement experiment); quantitative analyses of crime and political violence data at the district level; and elite interviews. The results have implications for how we think about state (dis)order, conflict, human rights, and security sector reform.

You can find Travis’ complete CV here.