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Laia Balcells Ventura


Laia Balcells Ventura - Duke University, USA

Laia Balcells is a political scientist specializing in the study of political violence as well as nationalism and ethnic conflict. She earned her PhD from Yale University in 2010 and is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke University since 2012. She has been a Niehaus Visiting Associate Research Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University (2015-16). Her first book, Rivalry and Revenge: The Politics of Violence in Civil War (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics; forthcoming) deals with the determinants of violence against civilians in civil war, and explores micro-level variation in the Spanish Civil War and Côte d’Ivoire. Her more recent work examines preferences for secessionism and their relationship with redistribution and identity-related factors. She has also recently explored post-war low-intensity violence (in Northern Ireland), wartime displacement (in Colombia and Spain), and cross-national variation in civil war warfare and its implications on conflict duration, termination and severity. She is currently using design-based inference tools to study the consequences of violence and transitional justice in post-conflict settings. She uses a multi-method approach to her research questions, and she has a particular interest in the study of historical phenomena using the tools of political science and economics.


Project:  While in residence, Professor Balcells will work on a new project on the domestic and international determinants of state violence. She is developing a theory on why states repress their citizens, which she will test with comparative evidence of the Latin American military regimes of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Latin America provides with an excellent laboratory given the presence of similar dictatorships during the same historical period. Balcells will combine statistical analyses with qualitative and archival research to study the determinants of repression in these military regimes. 

Stay period: FEB 2017 - JUL 2017