Hi! I am a PhD candidate in Political Science at the Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences affiliated with the chair of Professor Sabine Carey. I’m particularly interested in the empirical study of human rights violations and of state repression in authoritarian regimes. In my doctoral dissertation, I conduct an empirical and conceptual study of political imprisonment. My research has been published among others in Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Global Security Studies, Review of International Organization, International Interactions, and German Politics.

In my article „Who is a political prisoner?“, I identify the key dimensions of disagreement in conceptualizations of political prisoners. Definitions of political prisoners differ primarily with regard to (1) the source of politicization, (2) the timing of politicization, (3) the question of nonviolence, (4) the inclusion of identity prisoners, and (5) the criteria for biased state actions. I argue that the term political prisoner should be exclusively reserved for victims of politically biased trials while remaining agnostic about prisoners’ individual motivations. Otherwise, each politically motivated action ranging from right-wing extremism to jihadism would qualify individuals as political prisoner. Further, I emphasize that the concept of political prisoners is never a purely empirical category as it relies on the assumption that there are extra-state principles that limit legitimate state action. Since the specification of these principles cannot occur in an apolitical vacuum, the concept relies inherently and necessarily on a normative-political premise. I call for a common benchmark grounded in international law, to make political imprisonment comparable on a global scale.

In the publication Spoilers of peace: Pro-government militias as risk factors for conflict recurrence, we show that conflicts where pro-government militias are deployed as counterinsurgents are more likely to recur. We argue that militiamen develop incentives to spoil post-conflict peace since they are usually absent in peace negotiations between rebels and governments. Further, disarmament and reintegration programs tend to exclude pro-government militias. Drawing on statistical simulations, propensity score matching, and logistic regression models, we find empirical support for our claims.

In my publication “Trial fairness before impact: Tracing the link between post-conflict trials and peace stability”, I investigate the impact of post-conflict trials on peace stability in post-conflict countries. I contend that empirical effects of post-conflict trials are contingent upon the partiality of the proceedings. I conduct an expert survey evaluating all major post-conflict trials between 1946 and 2005. The findings reveal that most trials were partisan while few represented genuine instances of accountability-seeking. A quantitative analysis with coarsened exact matched survival models demonstrates that partisan trials stabilize negative peace, but result in coercive authoritarianism.