I am broadly interested in issues of nonviolent resistance, conflict, and political violence; particularly how violence affects civilians and, in turn, how civilians impact the broader processes within conflict. I use a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods in my research, with a focus on "big data" and "text-as-data," as well as in-depth qualitative interviews, archival and survey research, statistical analysis, network approaches and online ethnography. I have conducted research on militant and terrorist groups, peacekeeping and peace agreements, child soldiers, and non-combatants in conflict zones.
Publications in Peer Reviewed Journals:
Gade, Emily K., Mohammed Hafez, and Michael Gabbay. "Causes of Militant Infighting: Network Analysis from the Syrian Civil War," conditional accept at the Journal of Peace Research.
Civil wars are rarely simple contests between rebels and incumbent regimes. Instead, infighting among rebel groups is a constant, defining feature of many civil wars. Scholars have established that not all rebel groups are equally prone to infighting, but the underlying drivers of inter-rebel conflict – essentially, with whom are groups likely to fight given that they do so – remain something of a black box. This is important because conflicts where rebel-on-rebel violence occurs demonstrate increased civilian deaths, increased war duration, and a greater likelihood of war re-occurrence. We examine which types of rebel dyads are at greatest risk of conflict using a range of social network analysis approaches on an original corpus of militant group relationships collected from insurgent social media data during the Syrian Civil War. We generate a number of hypotheses based on power, ideology, and state sponsorship, and find strong evidence that ideologically distant groups have a higher propensity for infighting than ideologically proximate ones. We also find support for power asymmetry, meaning that pairs of groups of disparate size are at greater risk of infighting than pairs of equal strength. No support was found for the proposition that sharing state sponsors mitigates rebels’ propensity for infighting. This research provides an important corrective to the narrative that ideology plays little role in militant dynamics.
“Big data” will transform social science research. By big data, we primarily mean datasets that are so large that they cannot be analyzed using traditional data processing techniques. However, big data is further distinguished by diverse types of information and the rapid accumulation of that information. We introduce one recently released big data resource, and discuss its promise along with potential pitfalls. For nearly 20 years, governments have used the web to share information and communicate with citizens and the world. .GOV is an archive of nearly two decades of content from .gov domains (US federal, state, local) organized into a database format that is nine times larger than the entire print content of the Library of Congress (90 terabytes, or 90,000 gigabytes). Big data resources like .GOV pose novel analytic challenges in terms how to access and analyze so much data. In addition to the difficulty posed by its size, big data is often messy. Additionally, .GOV is neither a complete nor a representative sample of government presence on the web across time.
We evaluate the effectiveness of anti-insurgent violence as a means to suppress insurgency with micro-level data from the Iraq War. Our findings suggest that while violence against insurgents increases the incidence of future insurgent attacks, the intensity of this violence can significantly influence the outcome. Rather than shifting monotonically, the effect is actually curvilinear, first rising, and then contracting. We argue that at low to moderate levels, violence against insurgents creates opportunities for these groups to signal strength and resolve, which enables them to build momentum, heighten civilian cooperation, and diminish political support for counterinsurgency efforts in these forces’ home countries. The result is an escalation in insurgent attacks. However, at higher levels, this effect should plateau and taper off as insurgent attrition rises, and as civilian fears over personal safety displace grievances that might otherwise provoke counter-mobilization. Our empirical tests on data from the Iraq War, 2004–2009, demonstrate robust support for this argument.
International law codifies the principle of non-combatant immunity, which traces its origins to a religiously supported moral imperative. The principle of non-combatant immunity has evolved to become a crucial underpinning of just war theory. Western societal norms have complicated our understanding and application of the principle of non-combatant immunity by depicting combatancy in terms of innocence and guilt: those viewed as innocent deserve legal protection. Child soldiers and female suicide bombers exemplify today's complex and expanding parameters of combat. Consequently, in practice, authorities in conflict zones cannot rely on existing legal distinctions; instead, they are forced to make subjective judgements when deciding whom to protect. This article calls for a critical evaluation of: existing legal definitions concerning non-combatants; how conceptions of combatancy are applied in protective policy and humanitarian evacuation; and the resulting consequences and policy implications.
Articles Under Review:
“Ideology, Militant Networks and Violence in Syria,” Emily K. Gade, Michael Gabbay, Mohammed Hafez and Zane Kelly - Revise and Resubmit at the Journal of Conflict Resolution.
Preparing for Submission (drafts available upon request):
“Theorizing the Built Environment of Conflict: Checkpoints, Connection and Civilian Support for Militancy”
“Terrorism, Insecurity and the Senate: Using the .GOV Internet Archive to Understand Senators’ Use of Religious Language in Times of Insecurity,” Emily K. Gade, Sarah Dreier, Jon Schaeffer, and John Wilkerson.
“Turning Human Suffering into Data: Fieldwork during the 2015 Palestinian Intifada.”
“Racism in International Relations? The Roots of Combatantcy Categories.” Paige Sechrest, Vanessa Quince and Emily K. Gade.