Research Interests

International Relations

Forced migration and refugees, armed conflict, forms of political resistance 

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Research design, Causal inference, Methods for hierarchical data structures



Braithwaite, Alex, Tiffany S. Chu, Justin Curtis, and Faten Ghosn. 2019. “Violence and the Perception of Risk Associated with Hosting Refugees.” Public Choice 178(3-4): 473-492.

How do individuals’ experiences with political violence affect their perceptions regarding the risk associated with hosting refugees? This is an important question given that many communities are beginning to resent and oppose hosting refugees. To explore answers to the question, we study recent exposure to violence within Lebanon, which is a meaningful context since Lebanon serves as host to more than one million refugees from the Syrian Civil War. We adopt a novel empirical strategy to isolate the effect of exposure to violence upon perceptions of risk associated with hosting refugees. We exploit plausibly exogenous variation in the timing of violent events linked to refugee populations in Lebanon relative to the timing of responses to our nationally representative survey deployed between June and August 2017. Our empirical strategy compares individuals interviewed before and after violent attacks in Lebanon. The results suggest that recent exposure to violence by Syrian militants increases individuals’ perceptions of risk associated with hosting refugees from conflict zones, while exposure to violence carried out by Lebanese forces reduces perceptions of risk.

Ghosn, Faten, Alex Braithwaite, and Tiffany S. Chu. 2019. “Violence, Displacement, Contact, and Attitudes Toward Hosting Refugees.” Journal of Peace Research 56(1): 118-133.

How do individuals’ personal experiences with various aspects of political violence affect their attitudes toward hosting conflict refugees? More specifically, how does one’s personal exposure to violence, their own personal experience of being displaced, and their recent contact with refugees, influence these attitudes? To explore answers to these questions, we draw upon a recent survey of 2,400 Lebanese residents where we identify individuals who experienced violence during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), those forced to flee their homes during that conflict, and those who enjoy recent contact with Syrian immigrant and/or displaced populations. We examine whether these distinct experiences affect respondents’ regard for members of the Syrian refugee population. Results demonstrate historical exposure to violence and experience of displacement have no discernible impact on individual attitudes toward hosting refugees. We find much stronger evidence that attitudes are associated with whether individual respondents have had contact with Syrians in Lebanon; those with such interactions are significantly more likely to support hosting refugees, to consider hiring a refugee, or to allow one of their children to marry a refugee. Our findings suggest exposure to violence by itself does not correlate to positive sentiments toward refugees, especially overtime. Further, finding ways to create positive contact between refugees and native populations may be associated with improving attitudes and relations between the two populations.

Braithwaite, Alex and Tiffany S. Chu. 2018. "Civil conflicts abroad, foreign fighters, and terrorism at home." Journal of Conflict Resolution 62(8): 1636-1660.

Terrorist attacks in Brussels (May 2014) and Paris (January and November 2015) highlighted the threat related with the arrival of foreign fighters from civil wars overseas. We develop an argument suggesting that terrorism at home is systematically affected by the exit of so-called "foreign fighters" out of civil wars abroad. We contend that foreign civil conflicts ending in success for rebel groups can result in a surplus of well-trained foreign fighters, increasing the risk of terrorism at home. By contrast, when rebel groups are defeated in foreign civil conflicts, we anticipate a restriction in the flow of foreign fighters, which reduces the likelihood of terrorism at home. Empirical tests on most countries for the years 1970-2006 support these hypotheses. Tests also demonstrate that the flow of foreign fighters is associated with the creation of new terrorism campaigns, rather than the exacerbation of existing operations.

Replication data for Braithwaite & Chu (2017)

Chu, Tiffany S. and Jessica Maves Braithwaite. 2018. "The Effect of Sexual Violence on Negotiated Outcomes in Civil Conflict.Conflict Management and Peace Science 35(3): 233-247.

Combatants used sexual violence in approximately half of all civil conflicts since 1989. We expect that when groups resort to sexual violence they are organizationally vulnerable, unlikely to win, and as such they are inclined to salvage something from the conflict by way of a settlement. Using quantitative analysis of data on civil conflicts in the post-Cold War period, we find that a higher prevalence of sexual violence perpetrated by government forces precipitates negotiated outcomes. This is particularly true in contexts where both government and rebel forces utilize comparable levels of wartime rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

Replication data and supplemental material for Chu & Braithwaite (2017)

Chu, Tiffany S. and Alex Braithwaite. 2017. "The Impact of Foreign Fighters on Civil Conflict Outcomes." Research and Politics July-September: 1-7.

There has been a great deal of discussion about the large volumes of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq over the past couple of years. Yet, there remains little systematic evidence about the effect, if any, that foreign fighters have upon the conflicts that they join. Existing literature distinguishes between the resources that fighters bring to campaigns and the liability that they represent to campaign cohesion. We seek to establish preliminary evidence as to whether or not foreign fighters contribute to the success of the campaigns that they join. Our analyses of civil conflicts between 1946 and 2011 suggest that foreign fighters are associated with marginally increased prospects for success for the conflicts that they join. However, this effect exists only amongst fighters that originate from non-contiguous countries, who might be thought of as being more committed to the cause that they are joining.

Replication data and supplemental material for Chu & Braithwaite (2017)

Work in Progress

"Hosting your enemy: Accepting refugees from a rival and respect for human rights." Conditionally Accepted at Journal of Global Security Studies.

"The Effect of Leader Turnover on Refugee Repatriation." Under Review.

"People, Places, Problems: Political Violence and the Targeting of Local 'Resources'" (with Paul Bezerra and Alex Braithwaite). Under Review.

"Macro-level Determinants of Refugee Return."

"The Journey Back: Factors Influencing Refugee Decisions" (with Faten Ghosn, Alex Braithwaite, Miranda Simon, and Michael Frith).

"Dissidents to Litigants: The Effect of Judicial Legitimacy on Social Conflict Occurrence" (with Joseph M. Cox)



"What Shapes Public Attitudes Toward Hosting Syrian Refugees – And How They Can Change." Duck of Minerva. Tiffany S. Chu, Alex Braithwaite, Faten Ghosn, and Justin Curtis. February 18, 2019.

"The (Overblown) Concerns Linking Foreign Fighters, Civil Wars, and Terrorist Campaigns." Political Violence @ at Glance. Alex Braithwaite and Tiffany S. Chu. June 15, 2017.