Chelsea Estancona, Ph.D.

University of South Carolina

Country: United States (South Carolina)

Research Interests

Conflict Processes & War

Political Violence

Political Economy

Formal Theory

Research Methods & Research Design

Rebel Group Financing

Civil War Economics

Paramilitary Organizations

My Research:

My research agenda unites the substantive areas of political economy and intrastate conflict processes. I explain how politically driven militant groups can instead become motivated by economic gain, eventually resembling criminal bands rather than rebel organizations. I argue that natural resources can be a curse rather than a blessing for militant groups in conflict with the state. I find that when rebels lack strong central organization, natural resource wealth encourages corruption and infighting, making groups more likely to fail. I further find that natural resource wealth decreases the probability that groups will negotiate with the state. Primary commodities allow rebel groups to form economic partnerships with key local actors and increase their resource revenue, shifting the balance of power in their favor. Although these shifts should make negotiation more likely, the state can encourage locals to defect from these partnerships, making rebels' future power uncertain and negotiated settlements no longer credible. I develop these arguments with quantitative analysis of municipal and conflict-level data, game theoretic models, and qualitative exposition. My work speaks to literatures on natural resources in intrastate conflict, negotiation, commodity price shocks, and local strategic interaction in civil war. I am also engaged projects that address the strategic motivations of different actors in intrastate conflicts through the lenses of militia formation, one-sided violence, and terrorism, as well as methodological work.