Working Papers

Monumental Changes: Confederate Symbol Removals and Racial Attitudes in the United States. [manuscript]. 2023. (Under Review).

Abstract: Waves of activism following the mass murder of Black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015 resulted in the removal of hundreds of Confederate symbols across the South and the rest of the United States. What effect, if any, did these removals have on people’s attitudes and behavior regarding race and racial inequality? Using difference-in-differences strategies with panels of both individuals and geographic units, I find that the removal of Confederate symbols decreased racial resentment, increased support for affirmative action and warm feelings toward Blacks, and decreased anti-Black hate crimes. These effects were strongest at the most local level at which removals took place and decayed with greater distance from removal sites. These findings are congruent with an account that local residents interpreted removals of Confederate symbols as a shift toward liberalizing social norms regarding race.

Can Communities Take Charge? A Randomized Controlled Trial on Sustaining Schools in Afghanistan (with Dana Burde, Joel Middleton, and Cyrus Samii). [manuscript]. 2023.

Abstract: After wars, international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) often service basic needs like health and education. Ideally, such service provision would eventually be handed over to an accountable government. But cases like Afghanistan show that handover can fail. Should the ideal of handover be abandoned, or are there strategies to make it realistic? To address this question we test a community-based model for administering primary education in Afghanistan. We use a randomized equivalence trial that estimates effects relative to what INGOs achieve. The model succeeds in maintaining children’s learning and household satisfaction. It does not increase gender or ethnic bias nor does it result in resource misappropriation. However, in a one-year follow-up, community leaders were pessimistic about the model’s viability, although this was moderated by age and education. Communities can take charge in administering basic services, but they need additional inputs to sustainably institutionalize service provision after INGOs withdraw.


Women’s Mobilization Against Social Change: Evidence from the Early 20th Century U.S. South [prelim draft available upon request]. 2023.

Abstract: The history of women’s mobilization demonstrates numerous forms of political activism in the absence of formal female suffrage or other de jure social, political, and economic rights. In the U.S. from the 1890s to early 1920s, such mobilization was exemplified by the widespread proliferation of federated voluntary women’s clubs, comprised primarily of economically privileged and educated women, which were adapted into organizations with the capacity to wield political influence. However, these types of clubs did not appear everywhere. What explains the varied patterns of where these privileged, politically-oriented women’s social clubs arose? I examine this question using a rich and novel dataset on chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), a large-scale federated club of white women whose organizing principles centered around the cause of commemorating, reshaping, and spreading postbellum Southern history. Specifically, this paper explores a set of possible explanations for the establishment of local UDC chapters between 1890 and 1920. Because the UDC was a women’s organization focused on the cause of preserving a past social order, the analysis has implications not only for our understanding of gender in politics, but also for our understanding of racial politics and the politicization of history.

The Struggles that Bind Us: Evidence from a Survey Experiment on Cross-Group Mobilization History (with Jonne Kamphorst). [Pre-analysis plan available upon request]. 2023.

Can changes to racialized symbols mobilize support for racial justice reforms? (with Mark Williamson). [Pre-analysis plan available upon request]. 2023.

From another era (pre-PhD)

Peer-Reviewed Publications

A utility approach to accelerate universal electricity access in less developed countries: A regulatory proposal”. IJ. Pérez-Arriaga, R. Stoner, R. Rahnama, S. Lee, G. Jacquot, E. Protzer, A. Garcia, R. Amatya, M. Brusnahan, and P. Dueñas, Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy 8 (1): 33-50 (2019).

Policy Publications

Determinants of WTP among energy poor households: implications for planning models and frameworks“. R. Rahnama. Oxford Institute for Energy Studies Paper (EL 35): 1-33 (2019).

Electrification planning with a focus on human factors”. R. Rahnama and IJ. Pérez-Arriaga. Oxford Energy Forum (115): 30-34 (2018).