Research Interests: My research interests include sub-state conflict and violence dynamics, forced migration, and the implications of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, drones) for foreign policy, international relations, and individual attitudes toward war.
- Fisk, Kerstin and Jennifer M. Ramos. 2016. Preventive Force: Drones, Targeted Killing, and the Transformation of Contemporary Warfare. NYU Press.
Abstract: Previous research demonstrates that refugee populations can threaten the security of receiving countries. This study, in contrast, seeks to examine the physical security challenges refugees face in host states. It utilizes a new, geographically referenced data set on sub-country refugee demographics to test the hypothesis that locations home to larger refugee populations are more likely to experience one-sided attacks by conflict actors. Results demonstrate that refugee accommodation is a significant predictor of one-sided violence. In particular, combatants commit significantly more acts of violence against civilians in locations home to larger numbers of self-settled refugees compared to other locations. These findings suggest that scholars and practitioners account for possible dangers presented by refugee flows and threats to refugees simultaneously.
- Fisk, Kerstin. 2014. “Refugee Geography and the Diffusion of Armed Conflict in Africa.” Civil Wars 16(3): 255-275.
Abstract: Why are refugee populations often associated with the spread of armed conflict? Do refugees upset local dynamics, for instance by increasing the mobilization opportunities of would-be rebels? Past work on rebel motivation predicts that the strategic impact of a location influences armed actors’ decisions to fight there; thus, I identify two strategic aspects of refugee geography which may influence the occurrence of local level conflict events – refugee population size and accommodation type (camp-settlement compared to self-settlement). I examine the influence of these factors using a new, disaggregated dataset on refugees in 466 first-level administrative units across 26 African countries that experienced armed conflict during the period 2000–2010. The findings indicate that refugee populations are, by and large, unrelated to conflict events between formally organized, non-state groups and governments. Further, non-border locations home to larger refugee camps and those home to large self-settled populations are shown to be significantly less likely to experience armed conflict events compared to other locations in the host state.
- Fisk, Kerstin and Jennifer M. Ramos. 2014. “Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Preventive Self-Defense as a Cascading Norm.” International Studies Perspectives 15(2): 163-185.
Abstract: How and to what extent is the preventive use of force becoming the future of foreign policy for states around the world? We explore the spread of preventive logic to increasing numbers of states and examine the degree to which an international norm toward preventive self-defense is cascading in the international system. Through content and comparative case study analysis, we investigate leaders’ rhetoric and security policies concerning what we theorize is the key indicator of a country’s emulation of the United States: assertion of the right to the unilateral, preventive use of force outside of its borders. Our evidence indicates that there has been a shift away from the established international norm—which considers the use of preventive force illegal and illegitimate—toward growing acceptance of unilateral preventive strategies, a shift largely propelled by the precedents set by the United States in the war in Iraq and its use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) in the war on terror.