Societies with deep-seated ethnic or religious divisions pose a challenge for governance: how can a single set of political institutions govern a fragmented population peacefully and effectively? As the institution responsible for implementing and enforcing laws, the police are an especially critical piece of the governance puzzle. I explore the role of sectarian inclusion in the police forces in Iraq and Israel, two countries with legacies of violent conflict along identity lines. I argue that integrating minority groups into the rank-and-file of the police addresses common motives for anti-state violence by shaping citizens' expectations about how they will be treated by the state. I present survey, experimental, and observational evidence showing that citizens interpret police integration as a credible signal that the government does not intend to harm them, which in turn reduces citizens’ willingness to turn to violence.
Matthew Nanes is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. His research explores the way that political institutions shape the citizen-state relationship, particularly in societies plagued by violent conflict and low state legitimacy. Most of his work is in the Middle East, where he has conducted field work in a number of countries including Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and Oman. He is also involved in ongoing research on policing in the Philippines. Matthew received a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California San Diego and holds a B.A. from Rice University.