Alumni (National Fellow)

Aila Matanock

National Fellow
B.A. Harvard University (2005)
M.A. Stanford University (2008)
Ph.D. Stanford University (2012)
Professional Sector:
Dream Mentor:
Susan Hyde
Yale University
Fields of Interest:
Foreign Policy
International Relations


Aila M. Matanock is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research addresses the ways in which international actors engage in conflicted and weak states. She uses case studies, survey experiments, and cross-national data in this work. She has conducted fieldwork in Colombia, Central America, the Pacific, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. She has received funding for these projects from many sources, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Minerva Research Initiative, the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism (START), and the Center for Global Development (CGD).

Her book, Electing Peace: From Civil Conflict to Political Participation, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. It is based on her dissertation research at Stanford University, which won the 2013 Helen Dwight Reid award from the American Political Science Association. Her work has also been published by the Annual Review of Political Science, Governance, International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Politics, Perspectives on Politics, and elsewhere. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and her A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard University.

Thesis Description:

International Insurance: Explaining Why Militant Groups Participate in Elections as Part of a Peace Agreement
Matanock’s dissertation focused on the role of electoral competition between militant groups and governments, especially as a component of negotiated settlements. In contrast to broadly pessimistic views of elections as a conflict resolution tool, her research finds that, when these inclusive elections are part of an agreement, the duration of peace between the signatories is longer. Specifically, international actors are able to engage in monitoring and sanctioning violations of the deal through the transparency that elections provide. The project draws on evidence from field interviews with former militant group, government, and civic leaders and on a newly collected cross-national dataset. Her other projects focus on the role of international actors and armed non-state actors in governing weak and post-conflict states. She has designed and run several survey experiments in Colombia and Mexico that explore the levels of social support for armed non-state actors, as well as their strategies for gaining more support.

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