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Marisella Rodriguez


  • PhD Political Science, University of California, Davis
  • (Expected Graduation: June 2018)
  • MA Political Science, University of California, Davis, 2016
  • BA Political Science, California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo, CA), 2012
  • Minors: Women’s/Gender Studies, Sociology


Primary Field: International Relations

Secondary Field: Political Methodology

Third Field: Comparative Politics

PhD expected June 2018

Research Focus

Dissertation Title: Women and Wartime Sexual Violence: Discerning Strategic from Opportunistic Abuses

Dissertation Committee: Jeannette Money (chair), Brandon Kinne, Keith Watenpaugh

My dissertation examines variation in the type and level of wartime sexual violence based on conflict conditions. I acknowledge that, to some extent, sexual violence during conflict is fundamentally opportunistic, or non-targeted. However, I argue that there are three conditions under which wartime sexual violence is targeted and strategic. First, sexual violence is an effective strategy during ethnic conflicts because sexual abuse terrorizes a community and, in theory, hinders a community’s reproductive capability. Second, sexual violence is also an effective state military strategy in asymmetrical warfare since it directly targets an opponent’s most vulnerable population: women and children. Lastly, armed groups are likely to practice sexual violence strategically when their own group or community has suffered such abuse. To test these arguments, I use a mixed method research design that includes case study analysis and a series of ordered logit regressions.