The speaker, Macartan Humphreys, is an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University and a visiting professor at CISAC. He is a research scholar at the Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute at Columbia and a member of the Millennium Development goals project poverty task force, where he works on conflict and development issues. Overall his research is on African political economy and formal political theory. His dissertation on the politics of factions developed game theoretic models of conflict and cooperation between internally divided groups. More recent research focuses on rebellions in West Africa, where he has undertaken field research in the Casamance, Mali, and Sierra Leone. Ongoing research now includes experimental work on ethnic politics, econometric work on natural resource conflicts, game theoretic work on ethnic politics and large N survey work of ex-combatants in Sierra Leone. Humphreys' work is motivated by concerns over the linkages between politics, conflict and human development. He received his PhD in government from Harvard in 2003 and his MPhil in economics from Oxford in 2000.
The respondent, David Patel, is a 2006-2007 predoctoral fellow at CDDRL (fall quarter) and CISAC (winter and spring quarters). He is completing a dissertation looking at questions of religious organization and collective action in the Middle East, with a theoretical focus on the relationship of organization and information in particular. Empirically, his study looks at Islamic institutions and their role in political action in a wide range of settings including 7th century garrison cities of the early Islamic empire, through the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Patel has spent a great deal of time in the Middle East over the last several years, including extended visits to Yemen, Morocco, Jordan, and Iraq, where he spent seven months in Basra conducting research beginning in the fall of 2003. He works with David Laitin, Jim Fearon, and Avner Greif at Stanford. In fall 2007 he will join the faculty at Cornell University as an assistant professor of political science.