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Peer-Reviewed Publications

Patterned Payments: Explaining Victim Group Variation in West German Reparations Policy." 2020. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 14 (2): 381-400. DOI:

Claire Greenstein and Cole J. Harvey. 2017. Trials, lustration, and clean elections: the uneven effects of transitional justice mechanisms on electoral manipulation," Democratization, 24 (6): 1195-1214. DOI: 10.1080/13510347.2017.1304380




Mailing Address

Heritage Hall 408

1401 University Blvd

Book Chapters

“When Talk Isn’t Cheap: Opportunities and Challenges in Interview Research,” with Layna

Mosley. In Sage Handbook of Research Methods in Political Science and International Relations, Luigi Curini and Robert J. Franzese Jr., eds. 2020.


My dissertation, Pressures, Promises, and Payments: Explaining Governments’ Reparations Decisions after Domestic Human Rights Abuses, links the literatures on transitional justice, democratization, and social movements to answer the following question: After state-sponsored human rights abuses, why do some states persist in impunity, while others promise and pay reparations to victimized citizens? I offer the first generalizable theory about when and why governments promise and pay reparations by arguing that governments' reparations decisions depend on the efforts of victims’ rights organizations. I support this argument with qualitative data from 60 interviews I conducted in English, German, and Spanish during fieldwork in Germany, Peru, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and the USA from 2014 to 2017, as well as with quantitative data from my original dataset on reparations. My dataset covers governments’ reparations promises and payments decisions for nine different types of state-sponsored abuses committed during internal conflicts and dictatorships in Europe, Latin America, and Central A sia between 1939 and 2006. My dataset also includes an original measure of victim group strength.

Book Reviews

“The Politics of Transitional Justice in Latin America: Power, Norms, and Capacity Building,” by Ezequiel A. Gonzalez-Ocantos. Cambridge University Press. Democratization, forthcoming. Available at:

“Intimate Violence: Anti-Jewish Pogroms on the Eve of the Holocaust,” by Jeffrey S. Kopstein and Jason Wittenberg. Cornell

University Press. Nationalities Papers, forthcoming.


"Research Handbook on Transitional Justice," by Cheryl Lawther, Luke Moffett and Dov Jacobs (eds.). Cheltenham: Edward  Elgar. 2017. DemocratizationDOI: 10.1080/13510347.2017.1373762

Projects in Progress

Book Manuscript:

Promises and Payments: Why Governments Establish Domestic Reparations Programs

Journal Articles:

When Governments Pay Their Dues: Reparations in the Post-War Period

Although reparations are a transitional justice mechanism that has been used worldwide for over seventy years, there is little quantitative work on the topic, and the data structures of existing quantitative datasets on reparations make assumptions that result in misleading inferences. In this article, I propose four ways to improve how scholars gather and code quantitative reparations data. First, scholars should identify which conflicts and dictatorships are being studied, because many countries experience multiple abusive episodes. Second, they should specify whether they are examining reparations promises, reparations payments, or both. Third, they should disaggregate reparations promises and payments by victim group. Fourth, they should record information on when governments promise and pay reparations for specific types of crimes, rather than assuming that a government’s reparations program is paying reparations for all violations. I draw on my recently collected data on reparations to show how these four adjustments will greatly improve future quantitative research on reparations.

When Survivors Speak Up: A Quantitative Analysis of Domestic Reparations Payments

After governments commit human rights abuses against their own citizens, what motivates those governments (or their successors) to promise and pay reparations? I combine insights from the literatures on transitional justice, democratization, and social movements to create the first generalizable theory explaining governments’ reparations decisions. I argue that governments promise and pay reparations due to the efforts of strong, pro-reparations victims’ rights organizations. I support this argument with quantitative evidence from my original dataset on reparations promises and payments, which records the reparations outcomes for 180 cases of internal conflicts and dictatorships in Europe, Latin America, and Central Asia from 1939 to 2006, and with select qualitative data from fieldwork conducted in Germany and Peru from 2015 to 2017. I find that the strength of pro-reparations victims’ organizations has a meaningful and statistically significant influence on reparations outcomes.

Limited Contrition: Explaining Systematic Variation in Reparations Payments

Reparations payments are commonly analyzed in binary terms: paid or not paid. This approach causes researchers to miss systematic variation in the incidence of reparations promises and payments versus non-promises and non-payments for certain types of human rights abuses. In this paper, I move to a lower level of analysis to assess the variation in reparations payments based on the type of human rights violation. I do this using my original dataset on reparations, which contains data on nine types of state-sanctioned human rights abuses committed during internal conflicts or dictatorships in Latin America, Europe, and Central Asia between 1939 and 2006. My analysis reveals that reparations promise and payment rates vary from one type of abuse to another, as governments are more likely to offer payment for visible and documentable abuses than for crimes that do not leave tangible marks and whose commission cannot be indisputably proved. I also show how more reparations have been paid since human rights have become an international norm.

From Paper to Payment: The Uneven Application of Domestic Reparations Laws

After states commit human rights abuses against their own citizens, subsequent governments often draft and pass laws establishing reparations programs that provide money, services, and other measures to victims. Although in most cases these laws are ostensibly objective, thereby meeting international human rights standards, the practical implementation of such laws is often highly subjective. This paper examines the ways in which domestic politicians, bureaucrats, and courts interpret and enact reparations laws in partisan ways in order to maintain and accumulate political capital with domestic interest groups. It offers qualitative evidence from case studies in postwar Germany and postwar Croatia, including data from elite interviews, to show how governments draft laws that meet international standards, as well as how bureaucrats and courts then interpret and apply these laws in discriminatory ways that shield the political elite from domestic backlash over awarding reparations to unpopular minority groups.

Identity & Implementation: The Effect of Victim Ethnicity on Reparations Policy

Research on conflict processes has begun to examine how violent episodes and post-conflict reconciliation efforts affect different groups of people in different ways. Although there is a great deal of research on how ethnic identity shapes experiences of conflict, less attention has been paid to how ethnic identity shapes transitional justice experiences. This is particularly true of generalizable findings on how ethnicity influences the likelihood of receiving reparations. This paper examines how ethnic identity interacts with reparations and utilizes an original reparations dataset to show that ethnic identity does affect reparations outcomes. This differentiation does not occur in the extent to which governments make reparations promises and/or payments, but rather in how long it takes to pass and comply with reparations laws. While ethnic minorities receive reparations promises and payments at rates similar to ethnic majorities, it generally takes ethnic minority groups longer to receive promises and payments.

Reducing Mass Atrocities through Transitional Justice, with David Muchlinski

Despite calls of “never again,” mass atrocities continue across the globe. Oftentimes, policymakers and practitioners look to transitional justice to help them address these crimes, even though the literature has never systematically examined whether transitional justice reduces the recurrence of mass atrocities. Consequently, governments, policymakers, and NGOs lack systematic theoretical frameworks and empirical evidence regarding what policies reduce the likelihood of future human rights abuses. We address this mismatch between theory, evidence, and practice by conducting the first test of the relationship between transitional justice implementation and genocide onset/recurrence. We apply logistic regression to a new dataset on mass atrocities and data from the Transitional Justice Research Collaborative to evaluate which transitional justice mechanisms --if any-- are associated with reduced recurrences of mass killings. Our results provide cross-regional, cross-temporal statistical evidence and constitute an important addition to the fields of transitional justice, peace and security, and mass atrocity prevention.

Lip Service or Lasting Protection: The Link Between Transitional Justice Mechanisms and Minority Rights, with Katharine Aha

Why do some states construct robust minority rights protection regimes when others do not? This paper provides another part of the answer to this complex question by arguing that states’ transitional justice histories should be considered when examining the development of minority rights regimes. Transitional justice is designed to increase respect for human rights, and so we expect that states that implement transitional justice will also implement more long-term minority rights protection measures than states that eschew transitional justice. Our paper tests this hypothesis by analyzing quantitative data on transitional justice mechanisms and minority rights in Europe, Central Asia, and Latin America between 1990 and 2007. By linking transitional justice and respect for minority rights, we deepen our understanding of how minority rights regimes develop and offer the first quantitative assessment of how well transitional justice performs in its goal of safeguarding minority rights.

Selected Public Engagement

“Thirty Years after the Fall of the Wall: Progress and Challenges in German Reunification," Cipher Brief, Dec. 19, 2019.

How Reporting on Antisemitism Shapes Public Memory,” Pacific Standard, with Elizabeth Osman. Feb. 22, 2019.

Is Germany’s Future Brown or Green?” Slate, with Brandon Tensley. Oct. 29, 2018.

What the EU Represents in an Era of Rising Euroskepticism,” Pacific Standard, with Amber Cassady. Oct. 16, 2017.

Why Does Germany Have Boring Politics?” Foreign Affairs, with Brandon Tensley. May 17, 2017.


Merkel’s Murky Future,” New America, Feb. 16, 2017.


Japan, the United States, and Public Memory,” Foreign Affairs, with Brandon Tensley. Nov. 24, 2016.


Hungary, Sixty Years After the Revolution,” Foreign Affairs, with Brandon Tensley, Sept. 1, 2016.


The Strongwoman of Europe,” Foreign Affairs, with Brandon Tensley. April 6, 2016.    

How Europe Can Help the Rohingya,” Foreign Policy, with Brandon Tensley. Jan. 27, 2016.


The Merkel Magic,” Foreign Affairs, with Brandon Tensley. Nov. 27, 2015.


Why We Need Memorials,” Time Online. Sept. 19, 2014.

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