• Political Violence &

    Jackson Institute for Global Affairs

    Yale University

    CV (.pdf)
  • Political Violence &

    Jackson Institute for Global Affairs

    Yale University

    CV (.pdf)



I am a Henry A. Kissinger Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University. I received a Ph.D. in Political Science from UC San Diego in 2019.

My research examines the causes and consequences of political violence as they pertain to vulnerable populations, state development, and public health. My published work has appeared in World Development and Cornell University Press and has received financial support from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, the Minerva Research Initiative at the U.S. Department of Defense, the Institute on Global Conflict & Cooperation, and the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

My job market paper, "The Gendered Legacies of Wartime Trauma," highlights how exposure to military conflict provokes long-term changes in political attitudes and behaviors in affected communities. Using geo-referenced data on military violence and local outcomes, coupled with an instrumental variables approach to facilitate causal inference, I show that female political participation is suppressed in post-conflict settings, while male residents become more likely to support domestic violence against women and children. These effects are also highly persistent, remaining detectable even among future generations born long after the conclusion of the original conflict. The findings contribute to our understanding of the long-term, human consequences of war, while also demonstrating the transformative cultural effects of traumatic experiences. In related work, I show that conflict exposure can also provoke durable shifts in anti-immigrant attitudes, support for public services, and confidence in government.

In a separate set of papers, I introduce new causal explanations for war that bring our theoretical understanding of crisis bargaining, civil unrest, and interstate conflict into better alignment with findings from historical and empirical research.

I have taught undergraduate and graduate courses in international relations, comparative politics, research methods, and data science. Before entering graduate school I worked as a debate coach at Lewis & Clark College; as such, some of my early publications relate to argumentation theory and debate pedagogy.

If you have questions or wish to contact me, please email brandon.merrell@yale.edu.

Brandon Merrell


Henry A. Kissinger Postdoctoral Fellow (2019-2021)

    • International Security Studies & the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs
    • Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy
    • Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy
    • Yale University

Herb York Dissertation Fellow (2017-18)

    • Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation
    • UC San Diego


UC San Diego

    • Ph.D., Political Science (2019)
    •        Committee: David Lake (co-chair), Branislav Slantchev (co-chair)
    •        Eli Berman, Lauren Prather, Phil Roeder
    • M.A., Political Science (2015)

Southern Illinois University

    • B.A., Political Science and Economics (2011)

Western Kentucky University

    • Undergraduate (2007-2009)

Published Work

Refereed Political Science Publications

"Unprogrammed Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting"

    • with Brian Engelsma and Gerry Mackie
    • World Development, Vol. 129, May 2020.
    • [More Information]

"Denmark, 1940-1945:
Armed Resistance and Agency Slippage in Germany's Model Protectorate"

    • in Proxy Wars: Suppressing Violence through Local Agents,
    • edited by Eli Berman and David A. Lake, pp. 53-79.
    • Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2019.
    • [More Information]

Refereed Publications in Other Fields

"Debate across the Disciplines:
Structured Classroom Debates in Interdisciplinary Curricula"

    • with Kevin Calderwood and Todd Graham
    • Contemporary Argumentation and Debate, Vol. 37, pp. 57-74, 2017.
    • [More Information]

"Back to its Roots: Accuracy as the Litmus Test for Topicality"

    • with Todd Graham
    • Parliamentary Debate, Vol 13, No. 2, pp. 21-68, November 2016.
    • [More Information]

"Contrasting Structures, Conditional Strategies:
Designing Format-Specific Theories for Competitive Debate"

    • with Todd Graham
    • Parliamentary Debate, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 1-37, May 2016.
    • [More Information]

"The Intersection of Competitions and Classrooms in Forensics Pedagogy"

    • with Kevin Calderwood and Richard Flores
    • Communication Studies, Vol. 66, No. 4, pp. 433-47, August 2015.
    • [More Information]

Non-Refereed Publications

"Illegal Wildlife Trafficking: The Unseen Environmental Harms"

    • with Thomas Schally
    • in Up for Debate: U.S. Foreign Policy Options Towards the Greater Horn of Africa,
    • edited by Danny Cantrell and Brandy Brickey, pp. 1-24. La Mirada, CA: Picket Fence, 2009.

Current Research

Public Health & Post-Conflict Development

"The Gendered Legacies of Wartime Trauma:
Bombing, Domestic Abuse, and Political Participation in Cambodia"

"Education For All?
The Gender Literacy Gap and the Distributional Consequences of World Bank Assistance"

Causes of Interstate & Civil Conflict

"Why Do Leaders Fight Futile Wars?
Optimistic Constituents and Agency Dilemmas in Crisis Decision-Making"

"The Secrecy Gambit:
Clandestine Power Shifts and Preventive Conflict"

"Monopolies of Violence? Civil Insurgency and the Accountability Deficit"

"King Makers and Peace Breakers:
International Intervention and Post-War Violence"

Dormant Projects

"Are Reporters More Hostile Toward Female Officials?
Media Sentiment in White House Press Briefings"

"Renaming and Credit Claiming in Federal Agencies"

Brandon Merrell - CV

Click below for a .pdf version.


Political Violence, Political Economy, and Research Methods

Research Mentor

Frontiers of Political Science (senior honors thesis course)
Policy Responses to Global Problems (graduate research capstone)
Political Science Research Apprenticeship Program
Postwar Politics in Japan (graduate)

Discussion Section Leader

International Politics & Security (graduate)
Introduction to International Relations


East Asian Thought
Insurgency and Terrorism
International Law
Politics and Warfare
Religion and Politics
Supreme Court & Constitution
U.S. Foreign Policy
War and Society
Weapons of Mass Destruction



Brandon Merrell
Yale University
Jackson Institute for Global Affairs
55 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06520 USA

Email & Other

Email: brandon.merrell@yale.edu
Homepage: www.brandonmerrell.com
Office: 250 Church Street