Hello and Welcome!

I am a researcher who studies the role of international law in international politics. Beginning September 2022, I will be a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Berlin Potsdam Research Group “The International Rule of Law – Rise or Decline?,” where I will be studying the making and contesting of legal justifications for the use of military force. I completed my Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California (May 2022) and was previously a Visiting Research Fellow at the Amsterdam Center for International Law (Fall 2021). 

Broadly, my research looks at the relationship between international law, international organizations, and state behavior. In particular, my research explores how actors use legal references to construct their acts as compliant. This the idea of 'contested compliance' - the process by which actors argue, define and redefine the meaning of compliance in international law. In my dissertation, I articulate and test a theory of rhetorical compliance, an understanding of compliance that emphasizes the role of argumentation and rhetoric, arguing that behaviors are often not inherently compliant or noncompliant. Instead, what matters is an actor's ability to justify the behavior as compliant vis-a-vis opponent's abilities to cast the behavior as noncompliant. This focus highlights the role of argumentation and social interaction in creating and changing legal meaning, emphasizing the use of law in international relations.

Other aspects of my work focus on the rhetoric of international law and how it is used in and shapes the foreign policy decision-making process, especially decisions regarding the use of force and the protection of human rights. In my research, I have shown how states use legal references to win their desired outcomes in diplomatic negotiations and the importance placed by states on providing legal justifications for the use of military force abroad. I have also explored the legal obligations of states to regulate social media platforms and, with several coauthors, am exploring the role of the International Criminal Court and the place of citations in international law.

Methodologically, I am intrigued by qualitative approaches to the study of international relations. In particular, I am interested in case study methodologies, process tracing, archival work, and the uses - and misuses - of history in IR scholarship. Furthermore, I am interested in the relationships between computational and qualitative text analysis, particularly as they may be applied to archival documents and legal texts.

Prior to beginning my studies at USC, I completed my Masters of Science (First Honors) in Human Rights at the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin. Previously I worked as an International Admissions/Recruitment Assistant for University College Dublin. I earned my B.A. (cum laude) in History from Roberts Wesleyan College. Beyond research, I am a (very) amateur photographer, avid traveler, and a (occasional) long-distance runner and volunteer athletics coach.