Photos taken at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library and in the Presidential Archives, Abeokuta, Nigeria (2020)


Book Project

Staying Alive: Regional Integration Organizations and Vulnerable Leaders

In my dissertation book project, I develop a theory about what motivates cooperation through regional integration organizations and how authoritarian regimes sustain regional collective action, particularly in contexts of heightened domestic instability. I examine the circumstances in which vulnerable state leaders are more likely to contribute to regional security and to emphasize reciprocity with neighboring leaders.  I also trace the ways in which RIOs are used to protect leaders while balancing against excessive risk-taking behavior with inducements and punishments for the sake of regional stability.  I apply my theoretical framework to study where and when African and Middle Eastern states contribute troops for peacekeeping and other security operations. Later chapters address the impact of regional security cooperation on leaders' survival as well as the role regional organizations play in managing African democracies' and autocracies' dealings with donor states.

To link domestic sources of political vulnerability with regional cooperation, I rely on quantitative cross-national tests as well as qualitative evidence from Nigerian presidential archives and interviews with West African political elites and regional organization staff in Nigeria.

Working paper: "Protection for Hire: Authoritarian Cooperation through Regional Organizations" (Under review)

Presented at PEIO 2020, WPSA African Politics mini-conference 2020, APSA 2020, accepted for ISA 2020.


Rethinking Illiberal Regional Cooperation

Cooperation in the Shadow of Crisis: Regional Organizations and Coup Risk (awarded the 2021 Lawrence S. Finkelstein Award from the ISA's IO Section)

Dividends of Cooperation: Biased Military Interventions in Africa

Cases from ECOWAS

Original Datasets: 1. Troop and police deployments by African and Middle Eastern states, 1990-2018

2. African regional organization interventions in member state crises, 1990-2018

Authoritarian International Cooperation

Part of my research agenda addresses how autocratic regional intergovernmental organizations around the globe help member state leaders in their attempts to stymie liberalization.

Working Paper: "Stabilizing Authoritarian Rule: The Role of International Institutions" with Stephan Haggard (under review)

Presented at APSA 2019.

In Preparation: "Authoritarian Regionalism Revisited" with Stephan Haggard

Original Dataset: In The Autocratic Regional Organizations Dataset, I document the scope of cooperation through regional political and economic organizations with predominantly autocratic members from 1940 to the present.  Expansion of the scope of the dataset and its qualitative components is currently supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation and the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.

Other Data

Exile Destinations of Former Heads of State: I build on existing datasets to provide more information about the paths leaders take as they flee their home country into exile, including their first, second, and third destinations (as applicable), their legal status, and more.


"Taking the Cloth: How Religious Appeals Increase Compliance
with Covid-19 Prevention Measures" with Claire Adida, Leonardo Falabella, Isabel Gotti, ShahBano Ijaz, Gregoire Phillips, and Michael Seese   (Under review)

©2020 by Christina Cottiero.