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Faculty Profile - Kathryn Alexander

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Kathryn Alexander

Assistant Professor of Politics

On Faculty since 2018
630.752.5898



Dr. Alexander’s research explores the many roles of religion in global politics, especially the ways in which religious (f)actors can link the domestic and foreign affairs of states. Turkey and the United States have been key cases in her work to date, however her geographic interests range widely. Her broad teaching interests include theories of comparative politics and international security; the regional politics of Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East; and religion and politics. Off-campus, she enjoys travel, home improvement projects, rock climbing, soccer, and baking. She lives in Wheaton, IL with her husband, Chris, and two incredibly soft cats, Ginger and Snap.

Duke University
Ph.D., Political Science, 2017

Duke University
M.A., Political Science, 2015

Sweet Briar College
B.A., Government, 2011

  • South Asian Politics
  • African Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • Religion and Politics
  • Political Elites
  • International Security
  • Middle East Politics

Fully Committed? Religiously Committed State Populations and International Conflict, Duke University
Kathryn Alexander
This dissertation argues that high levels of religious commitment (or, religiosity) within a population can increase a state’s propensity for initiating conflict. Following a three-article framework, the project contains three interlocking empirical studies, each on religion’s role in conditioning interstate conflict and connections between domestic culture and global politics. The first article uses a large-N, cross-national statistical study to explore whether states with religiously committed citizens are more likely to initiate conflict than states with less committed populations. The second article outlines a theory that more deeply analyzes the empirical phenomenon identified in the first article, using a case study of Turkey to explain why countries with religiously committed populations are likely to be prone to international conflict. The final article employs a survey experiment to explore how and why religious signaling by elites may influence the foreign policy opinions of religiously committed people and elicit their support for a particular issue. 2018
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Religiosity and Bellicosity: The Impact of Religious Commitment on Patterns of Interstate Conflict, Journal of Global Security Studies
Are states with religiously committed citizens more likely to initiate conflict than states with less committed populations? This article builds upon findings within the literature on American politics that link individuals’ levels of religious commitment to their attitudes about foreign policy, and it tests whether the implications of these findings have cross-national applicability and explanatory power for interstate conflict. Using a novel, robust measure of the proportion of a state's population that is religiously committed, as well as monadic and dyadic statistical models, the analysis finds widespread connections between religious commitment and bellicose state behaviors. The results show that states with more religiously committed populations demonstrate higher propensities for initiating conflict with other states. This relationship is most severe when both states in a dyad have high levels of religious commitment, while it does not appear to be conditioned by whether majorities within the populations of each state ascribe to different religious traditions. This project advances knowledge about both the role of religion in international relations and conditions for interstate conflict, emphasizing the relevance of domestic cultural factors to global politics.
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