Eteri Tsintsadze-Maass

ets222's picture
  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Political Science
  • Other Affiliations:
Research Interests:

Ph.D. (Political Science), University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY (2020 expected)

M.A. (Political Science), University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY (2017)

M.A. (International Peace Studies), University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN (2008)



I am a Ph.D. candidate specializing in International Relations and Comparative Politics. My research interests are in interstate conflict, security, women and politics, nationalism, and politics of the post-Soviet region. I use both quantitative and qualitative research methods in my work, ranging from field work and archival research to statistical models analyzing national and cross-national data. In addition to my research I regularly teach undergraduate courses such as Contemporary Global Conflicts, Intro to Comparative PoliticsPolitical Analysis, and Film and Politics.

My dissertation, Why Weak States Balance: National Mobilization and the Security Strategies of Newly Independent States, aims to explain variations among newly independent states’ security strategies towards their former ruler. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the 14 weaker post-Soviet states adopted dramatically differing security strategies towards Russia. Conventional theories that see the distribution of power or economic and institutional interdependence as the central determinants of states’ foreign policy choices cannot explain why some post-Soviet states prioritized cooperation with Russia while others sought to balance against it. I propose that a state’s national mobilization and domestic ideological environment profoundly affect its security strategy. The central argument of this study is that particular historical developments prime national mobilization, leading nations to see themselves as unique socio-political units worthy of independence, and driving their leaders to interpret their former ruler as a primary security threat they must balance against. I test my theory in two ways: a broad correlational analysis between the proposed causal factors and the 14 weaker post-Soviet states’ foreign policy choices and two chapters containing in-depth case studies of Georgia and Kazakhstan utilizing process tracing methods to test the specific causal mechanisms at play.

A second stream of my research focuses on women and politics. My work in this area earned an OPSVAW Graduate Fellowship ($9000) from UK’s Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women. That work includes two papers currently in progress. In one of these papers, Jillienne Haglund (University of Kentucky) and I argue that post-conflict environments frequently produce political gains for women. Women’s participation in combat challenges pre-existing gender roles, transforming the identities of women combatants as well as the attitudes towards women in the societies around them, leading to an increase in the formal and informal political participation of women in the post-conflict environment. We test our theory through a cross-national statistical analysis covering all civil wars between 1979 and 2009, which confirms that women’s participation in combat is an important predictor of advancements in gender egalitarianism in post-conflict societies. 

I have also produced a second article manuscript in this stream on women and politics, examining the effects of democratic institutions on women’s rights policies and outcomes. While the connection between democracy and human rights is well established, much less work has been done exploring the role of specific electoral institutions. My study contributes to extant research by bringing together disparate literatures on democratic institutions and women’s rights to develop a more nuanced understanding of how particular electoral institutions protect different types of women’s rights. These findings have explicit policy implications and can be used by advocates of women’s rights to target their efforts on democratic reforms that should enhance respect for women’s rights.

Before pursuing my Ph.D. in Political Science, I earned my M.A. in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and I have since turned my thesis on groupthink and terrorist radicalization into a publication in the journal of Terrorism and Political Violence. Political violence remains an area of interest for me, and I continue to find value in enriching my theory building process with psychological approaches in my current projects as I did in that one.

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