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I am a PhD candidate at Harvard University, Department of Government. My research lies at the intersection of political violence and the political economy of development, with a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

I study the relationship between citizens and the state during times of conflict and state fragility. Who governs during war and peace, and how do those who seek to govern penetrate local communities? What explains citizen engagement and disengagement during periods of political insecurity? I use a combination of archival research, interviews, focus groups, administrative data, and survey datasets to answer these questions.

My dissertation seeks to understand the consolidation of power after rebel victory, and offers a theory to explain how rebel governance during war affects post-war statebuilding decisions. I investigate this link subnationally in Zimbabwe and Liberia, and make comparisons across various cases of rebel victory in sub-Saharan Africa. My research has been supported by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) as well as the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and the Center for African Studies at Harvard.

Prior to graduate school, I received a BA from Columbia University in Political Science, and completed the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange Program in Violin Performance.

Please contact me at:
shelleyxliu@g.harvard.edu