Robert U. Nagel

Robert U. Nagel


In May 2019, I defended my PhD in International Conflict Analysis at the University of Kent, Canterbury, UK. In my dissertation “Gendered Influences on Conflict Resolution in Intrastate Conflicts”, which passed without revisions, I investigate large questions at the intersection of intrastate conflict resolution, international security and gender dynamics in civil wars. My supervisory team consists of Dr Andrea den Boer and Dr Edward Morgan-Jones at the University of Kent and Dr Govinda Clayton at ETH Zurich. My examiners were Dr Nadine Ansorg and Dr Tobias Böhmelt.

My research places gendered violence at the center of studying conflicts to show that the marginalization of women is an impediment to negotiations in civil wars. I argue that patriarchal gender relations that manifest in women’s exclusion from public life indicate an idealization of masculinity that is associated with governmental preferences for violent conflict management. In one project forthcoming in the Journal of Peace Research, I demonstrate that this missing link – women’s place in society – helps explain how domestic gender relations influence state preferences and behavior.

In my dissertation, I also advance our understanding of the effects of sexual violence by illustrating that reports of rebel sexual violence increase the likelihood of mediation onset. I argue that governments are gendered institutions with the fundamental responsibility to protect vulnerable groups. For example, in my article published at the Journal of Conflict Resolution, I argue that reports of rebel sexual violence expose a government’s inability to protect these vulnerable populations and undermine its reputation as protector. This affects governments’ cost/benefit analysis of accepting mediation and subsequently increases the chances of mediation onset.

My dissertation also breaks new ground in examining the effects of sexual violence on conflict recurrence. While many groups obey ceasefire agreements, others continue to perpetrate sexual violence. In a paper that is currently under revise-and-resubmit at International Studies Quarterly, I find not only that some rebel groups continue to perpetrate sexual violence following the cessation of lethal hostilities, but that a return to full-fledged conflict is more likely under these conditions. This paper was awarded the 2019 Cedric Smith Prize for the best peace and conflict studies paper by a UK or ROI based PhD student.

This fall I am an adjunct professor at Clark University teaching 'Africa & the World' and 'Comparative Politics of Women.' I previously held a pre-doctoral visiting scholar position in International Affairs at Northeastern University, for which I was awarded the Christine and Ian Bolt scholarship from the University of Kent. During my PhD at the University of Kent, I was a teaching assistant for an undergraduate course on quantitative methods as well as an undergraduate course on research design and mixed methods with a particular focus on process tracing.

I am the journal manager of International Peacekeeping, the social media director and conference organizer for the Conflict Research Society, and a research affiliate for the WomanStats Project. I also have extensive experience as a research assistant on data projects. I have worked as a research assistant for Professor Cohen and Professor Nordås on the Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) project updating the original dataset to include the years 2010-2015. Furthermore, I was the lead research assistant for Professor Dorussen at the University of Essex and Dr Clayton at the ETH Zurich on their forthcoming dataset on United Nations Political Peacekeeping Missions (UNPPKO).