Associate Fellow, Teaching Academy - Purdue University
Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, I am a lecturer for the Department of Political Science at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. I received my PhD from Purdue in August 2013 with an emphasis in international relations. I specialize in security issues as well as U.S. foreign and environmental policy. In addition to numerous other research projects, I am currently working on a book which explores the relationship between resource scarcity and state capacity throughout history.
Dissertation Title: “The Evolution of Society and the Modern State”
Abstract: Scholars agree the modern territorial state first appeared in Europe despite man's origins in Africa. Why societies in Europe first developed high capacity political organizations remains a critical question for social science to answer. Doing so provides clues as to why Europe dominated the international system for most of the modern era and why states in Africa failed to develop political organizations with the same capacity. Qualitative case studies and quantitative results confirm states with the greatest capacity formed in the areas that faced the harshest conditions and, thus, the gravest threat from issues of competition and scarcity. These evolving societies expanded beyond the safety of their initial buffer zones and began closer contact with rivals. Increased contact typically resulted in war, which, in turn, increased the need for an administration with the capacity to ensure survival. The modern territorial state emerged as the most efficient organizational structure for achieving this goal. Resource abundant areas, on the other hand, escaped this cycle of interaction, thus decreasing the frequency of war significantly. Under such conditions, states either failed to form until foreign intervention or formed with little institutional capacity. The findings not only give us insight into the evolution of society and the modern territorial state, but they also provide state builders with concrete policies to help increase institutional capacity in semi-sovereign nations.