I have conducted field research in Afghanistan on numerous occasions between 2007-2015 and in Somalia (and Somaliland) in the summer of 2014. I plan to go back to both countries as part of my “Fragmentation” project.
Since elites are pivotal in the construction of order in patrimonial societies, my fieldwork combines direct empirical observation with semi-structured elite interviews, during which I ask interviewees detailed open-ended questions about their life histories. I use a snowball method of sampling to build a population of interviewees capable of shedding light on the role of sub-state armed actors in state-building processes. The same individuals are interviewed multiple times and their testimonies triangulated with contemporaneous journalistic accounts and interviews with political opponents to mitigate the risk of ex post misrepresentation of historical events and ensure the quality of information.
In Afghanistan I have done 12 months of fieldwork around Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif, Herat, and the Panjshir, where I have conducted over 200 semi-structured interviews with a wide spectrum of actors. These actors include but are not limited to ministers, governors, a vice-president, the current chief executive officer of Afghanistan, warlords and their entourages, opposition leaders, foreign diplomats, NGO workers, and local researchers.
Somalia (and Somaliland)
In Mogadishu, Somalia, I have conducted interviews with warlords, diplomats, and several other political actors. I have also been to Hargeisa, Somaliland, where I talked to former members of the Somali National Movement (SNM) and to local researchers. Going both to Somalia, a place rife with conflict where the central government barely has any governing capacities outside of Mogadishu, and to Somaliland, an autonomous and relatively peaceful yet unrecognized political entity, allows me to study variation in political orders.
- Somalia and Somaliland (August 2014)
- Afghanistan (October-November 2015, February 2014, May-June 2013, February-March 2011, November-December 2009, September-December 2008, February 2008, December 2007, September 2007)
My previous fieldwork was made possible thanks to the generous support of the following institutions: Northwestern University, Radboud University, the French Embassy in Afghanistan, the Institut des Hautes Etudes de Défense Nationale, the Center for International Studies (CERI), the Pierre Ledoux Foundation, and the City of Paris.