Gabriella Levy

Hello! I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Duke University and a 2022-23 USIP Peace Scholar Fellow. Beginning in August 2023, I will be a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Brown University Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. I can be contacted at

In my work, I seek to understand the ways in which people interpret, evaluate, and respond to various forms of political violence, ranging from civilian targeting to vigilante punishment to the targeted assassinations of civil society leaders.

My dissertation, entitled “Variation in Public Responses to Violence Against Civilians,” investigates why people react more negatively to civilian targeting in some cases than in others, sometimes calling for the prosecution of perpetrators but other times voting them into office. I argue, first, that individuals see some forms of violence against civilians as less unethical than other forms. Second, I suggest that people see their preferred armed actors as less unethical than other armed groups which perpetrate similar violence against civilians. I test this theory in the case of Colombia, using two original survey experiments, analysis of pre-existing public opinion data, interviews with civil society leaders, and archival resources.

My work has been published or is forthcoming at the Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, and the British Journal of Political Science. I have also been invited to revise and resubmit manuscripts at the Journal of Peace Research and the Journal of Conflict Resolution.