Meet 2019 Centennial Center Research Grant Recipient Mara Redlich Revkin

Mara Redlich Revkin is a post-doctoral fellow at Georgetown University Law Center. She received funding from the Centennial Center Research Grants Program’s Second Century Fund for her project Can Community Policing Increase State Legitimacy After Conflict? Evidence from Iraq  

Dr. Revkin studies legal systems during and after conflict with a focus rule of law, transitional justice, and security sector reform in Iraq and Syria. She holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University, where her dissertation examined civilian agency during rebel governance and its post-conflict consequences in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. She is currently based at The Georgetown University Law Center on a two-year postdoctoral fellowship, where she is continuing her research on police reform in Iraq and ongoing projects on transitional justice and rule of law in Iraq. 

Dr. Revkin has conducted fieldwork in Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and Oman using qualitative and quantitative research methods including large-scale household surveys, semi-structured interviews, and event data based on newspapers and social media posts. Her current research aims to contribute to the development of evidence-based strategies for strengthening rule of law and state legitimacy after war. She has served as the lead researcher on Iraq and Syria for United Nations University, the research wing of the UN system, for projects on the recruitment of children by armed groups and prospects for transitional justice after the Islamic State. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Journal of Politics, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, World Development, The Harvard National Security Journal, The Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Foreign Affairs, and The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Law. 

With support from a Centennial Center Grant, Dr. Revkin implemented a study on police reform in Iraq through a partnership between the International Organization for Migration, which has been implementing a community policing program in Iraq since 2012, and Yale Law School’s Center for Global Legal Challenges.  

The purpose of this study was to assess whether training Iraqi police officers in principles of community-oriented policing including procedural justice, human rights, and gender sensitivity can improve trust and cooperation between civilians and state security forces. In post-conflict and post-authoritarian societies, public distrust of state security forces is a barrier to stabilization and effective governance. Distrust and fear of police undermines public safety, effective governance, and democracy. When citizens distrust or fear the police, they are less likely to report crimes and other problems to state authorities and they may not feel comfortable fully exercising basic human rights including freedom of expression and movement. Previous research suggests that community policing programs can promote trust and cooperation between state security forces and civilians and in doing so increasing state legitimacy, but knowledge gaps remain around the perspectives of police, causal mechanisms through which community policing can promote change, and community policing in Iraq, which presents a particularly challenging case for police reform. 

Dr. Revkin’s multi-method study leverages a quasi-experiment created by the expansion of a community policing program—implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Iraq’s Interior Ministry—to assess the program’s effects over a six-month period on public opinion toward police as well as local security comparing three treatment communities and nearby, demographically similar comparison communities. Dr. Revkin is currently preparing papers to submit to academic journals. She has posted abstracts and plans to share the working papers on her website when they are ready. 

Since 2003, the Centennial Center for Political Science and Public Affairs has offered scholars a wide selection of funds that can be applied to the costs of research, including travel, interviews, access to archives, or costs for a research assistant. In order to provide additional support to our members during the current crisis, this year the Centennial Center is making research grants more flexible by expanding the categories of costs eligible for fundingEligible costs now include: 1) Research costs associated with interviews and surveys, access to archives, and more 2) Salary support for PIs 3) Salary support for research assistants 4) Per diems regardless of location 5) Research software and hardware, including devices necessary for scholars with disabilities to conduct their research. We recognize that APSA members may have needs not included in the above list. If you have a cost that is not listed here, please contact us at Grants typically range from $500-$1500 but funds can be requested in any amount up to $2500 maximum. The next application deadline is June 30. Learn more and apply!