Research



My research program addresses three interrelated questions:

(1) How is private power expressed in global politics?

(2) How does global private power interact with public power and sovereign authority?

(3) How can global private power be held politically accountable?


While the objects of my study range from war contractors and business associations to non-governmental organizations and technology companies, my analytical tools are united in tracing the logics of private power and political responsibility through original archival data.



HYBRID SOVEREIGNTY

From contractors fighting international wars, to corporations regulating global markets, to governments collaborating with nongovernmental entities to influence foreign elections, overlapping relations of public and private hybridity abound in the major stories of global sovereign power. In my book, I call this phenomenon “hybrid sovereignty” and study its forms and dynamics using cases such as the English East India Company, Blackwater, the International Chamber of Commerce, and Amnesty International.



CORPORATE POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY

Thinking about private power has opened up new avenues for me to conceptualize responsibility. One strand focuses on corporations, where I make disparate literatures on criminal liability, corporate social responsibility, and international human rights law more accessible for IR readers. A second strand develops an account for taking structural justice seriously in international political theory to move beyond “interactional” models of responsibility for more systemic transformation.



GLOBAL POLITICS OF BIG TECH

My latest project develops original research on the global politics of Big Tech, particularly Google and Facebook, as they engage in unprecedented "algorithmic governance." I lead an undergraduate research lab at Purdue on International Politics and Responsible Tech (iPART). Our current project builds an original dataset of Facebook's sociopolitical harms and tracks related regulatory activities worldwide to identify the most pressing accountability gaps.



SOCIAL THEORY AND HISTORICAL METHODS

I have an ongoing interest in social theory that clarifies relational approaches like constructivism and actor-network theory. In introducing a typology on mechanisms of social construction, I argue that projects vary in whether they regard social context as fixed or fluid and whether they focus on structures or agents. I also evaluate how historically-minded scholars can take advantage of the digital humanities.