Dissertation Project:
“Power Vacuums in International Politics”

"Nations, like nature, are said to abhor a vacuum." Arnold Wolfers' words cunningly summarize a wisdom commonly held both within the academy and policy communities: just like black holes in space, power vacuums in international politics are viewed as exerting tremendous gravitational force, pulling in states and as a result increasing security competition and the likelihood of interstate war. Yet despite the frequency with which power vacuums and their pernicious consequences are referred to in scholarly and public discourse, social scientists – and in particular students of international relations – have so far failed to specify what power vacuums are, let alone discuss their implications for international politics. This project seeks to rectify these omissions by answering a series of foundational questions: what are power vacuums? Why do states compete for control over some but not others? And what accounts for variation in the types of strategies they employ when they decide to compete?

Working Papers

“How Rare Are Rational Thinkers in International Politics? Revisiting the ‘Guilty Men’ of Interwar Britain”

“A Tale of Two Pressures: Islamic Law States and the Timing of Litigation” with Emilia J. Powell and Benedikt A. Graf

“‘Committing Suicide for Fear of Death’? Great Powers, Uncertainty, and the Myth of Preventive Wars”

“Defining Interstate Cooperation: A Philosophical Approach” with Marcel Jahn

“Pathologies of Psychology: A Critique of Applications in International Relations”