Jan 29, 2015
12:30pm - 2:00pm    |    Wilf 5th Floor Conference Room, 139 MacDougal Street, New York, NY

Valid ID and RSVP are required for admission. Please RSVP here or email Audrey.watne@nyu.edu. Lunch will be served.

A recent investigation by CHRGJ alumnus Christopher Sullivan demonstrates how misconceptions regarding the causes of human rights violations manifest themselves in the sources most commonly employed to study the topic. By comparing unique data gathered from an archive of previously confidential reports produced by the Guatemalan National Police against data collected from international and Guatemalan newspapers, the analysis investigates the potential biases inherent in media reporting on human rights violations. The results reveal significant limitations in analyses conducted using media data. Media reports are shown to predispose analysts to the conclusion that governments only employ repression in self-defense against “public disturbances.” The full range of repressive activity and useful insights into its application will only be revealed when new and better data are brought to bear.

About the Speaker: Christopher Sullivan is a former CHRGJ Scholar in Residence who will begin teaching at Louisiana State University’s Political Science Department this year. He received his PhD with distinction in in Political Science from the University of Michigan in May 2014.  He published two articles in 2014: “The (In-) Effectiveness of Torture for Combatting Insurgency” in The Journal of Peace Research and “The Northern Ireland Research Initiative: New Data on the Troubles 1968-1998” in Conflict Management and Peace Science (with Cyanne Loyle and Christian Davenport). Sullivan’s dissertation, “Undermining Resistance: Mobilization, Repression and the Enforcement of Political Order,” examines the use of political repression in Guatemala from 1975-1985. Three intricately related questions are investigated: why do governments repress their citizens; what impact does repression have on citizen decisions to engage in dissent; and when does repression end. The project develops a novel theory of government repression that focuses specifically on attempts by authorities to undermine overt collective challenges, such as protest or terrorism, by targeting activities that precede and/or support such behavior. The investigation provides empirical evidence to support these claims by analyzing new data collected from the confidential records of Guatemalan National Police. Analysis of the police data reveals how government forces employ coercion to subvert challenges by directing repression against radical mobilization.



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