My Profile Photo

Shelli Israelsen


Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science
Indiana University — Bloomington

I specialize in International Relations and Research Methodology. My primary research areas are conflict dynamics, international security and foreign policy analysis. I also have expertise in African politics and development and international law. My research interests include gender and conflict, insurgent recruitment and governance, interstate rivalry formation, ethnic conflict and contentious politics. My teaching interests include international relations, U.S. foreign policy, interstate and intrastate war, African political economy, gender and international security and international law.


Research

Dissertation: A Dynamic Theory of Ethno-Nationalist Organizations’ Recruitment of Women

My dissertation investigates three questions pertaining to the recruitment practices of armed ethno-nationalist organizations. First, why do ethno-nationalist organizations recruit women? Second, what roles do these women typically perform in these organizations? And third, is it possible to predict the timing of women’s recruitment into armed ethno-nationalist organizations? Scholars have primarily focused on the religious, ethnic, political and economic variables that may trigger insurgent recruitment but seldom is recruitment studied as a gendered phenomenon. The dissertation addresses this understudied research area by providing a systematic explanation of the conditions under which ethno-nationalist leaders defy their communities’ gender norms and recruit women into traditionally male roles, such as combatant. I explore how changing conflict conditions such as fluctuations in the groups’ military capabilities, their relationship with the civilians under their control and the groups’ degree of territorial control affect the likelihood that the insurgent leadership will recruit women as combatants. To test my arguments, I examine the recruitment strategies of four ethno-nationalist organizations: the Eritrean Liberation Front and the Karen National Union/Liberation Army, which did not recruit female combatants and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which recruited women into combat roles. Data for this project is collected from primary and secondary sources and interviews conducted during field research in Thailand and Burma/Myanmar.

Publications

“Psychoanalysis and the Study of Political Science.” (2010) In Grand Theories and Ideologies in the Social Sciences, Howard J. Wiarda, ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 97-112.

Forthcoming Work

“Fighting for Greatness: Explaining State Capacity via Rivalry Processes.” (with Prashant Hosur) Under Review

“Strategic Rivalries in the Middle East” (with Prashant Hosur) Under Review

“Rivalries as Consequences of Multilayered Territorial Contests.” (with Prashant Hosur)