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The Logic of Authoritarian Reaction to Foreign Relief



While natural disasters do not respect political boundaries, states’ responses do. I argue that authoritarian regimes strategically choose from aid facilitation, obstruction or diversion depending the political relevance of the disaster victims and the need for performance legitimacy. When key supporters of the regime are afflicted by the disaster and the regime needs performance legitimacy, it is in the interest of authoritarian regimes to facilitate foreign relief. When neither holds true, they opt to obstruct aid. Between the two policy extremes, I expect a policy mix of facilitation with aid diversion. I illustrate the theory with Myanmar’s reaction to foreign relief after Cyclone Nargis as a case study. To generate raw data, I garner news media reports using LexisNexis for subsequent text analysis. I also use data from the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT), combined foreign aid data (AidData) and as well as standard regime-type indicators for statistical tests. This project was funded by Bogazici University from 01/02/2017 to 3/2/2019 with BAP Project ID 12301. It is currently funded by the 2022 Spring Centennial Center Research Grants.

Research Position



The position is for a Research Assistant and/or a Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

I am looking for someone who can do text/sentiment analysis or topic modelling. Compulsory skills include: R and/or Stata, text analysis (see here and here), Python, GIS coding, web scraping, and econometric analysis.

The position is for at least six months. Most of the work is in person (at Ashoka).

For a full-time position, the expected working hours per week is 40. For a part-time position, the expected working hours per week is around 20. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow is expected to work Full time. The Research Assistant may be part-time. Remuneration is adjusted accordingly. All financial compensations are contingent on grant funding.

Ashoka students with the requisite quantitative skills, especially from Computer Science, Economics, Political Science or International Relations are welcome. Ashoka graduates may also apply. I will also consider candidates (masters and PhD candidates) from outside of Ashoka.


Candidates should email me the following:

1 Use the subject headline “The position you seek: Your Name”

2. a CV (with 2-3 referees),

3. a cover letter telling your exact quantitative skills.

4. Optional: If you have a portfolio to showcase your work, show me.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. The search is open until filled.


Later on, I plan to start a search for Research Assistants to do qualitative work. Ashoka students should watch this space for openings.

Research Collaboration

I may consider a collaborator for a research project on the political economy of natural disasters. The project will require quantitative analysis (text analysis, webscrapping and statistics). Assistant professors, postdocs and PhD candidates from the fields of Political Science, Economics, Media Studies or Computer Science may be relevant. Drop me a line and a CV to inquire please. Inquiries are preliminary and does not presume commitment.

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