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My name is Kourosh Rahimkhani and I am a doctoral candidate in Political Science at Binghamton University. I specialize in Comparative Politics and International Relations and my work explores politics of ethnoreligious identities, nondemocratic elections, authoritarian politics, particularly the conditions impacting authoritarian regimes’ creation and survival as well as their interaction with opposition groups.

My research focuses on the role of the political institutions in the durability of authoritarian regimes, with emphasis on the electoral participation of citizens in these countries. I examine how dictators manipulate democratic institutions such as elections, political parties, and legislative bodies that might constrain their powers.

In addition, I have been working on a study that explores how sectarian identity has been one of the main drivers of conflict and instability in many nondemocratic countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). I investigate the identity conflicts in the MENA where ethnic and religious identities have become increasingly a base for political mobilization.In these conflicts, certain identity categories, religions or ethnics, have become more politically salient and a basis for violent mobilizations in these countries.

However, some autocratic leaders have been able to use political institutions to defuse the threat of ethnoreligious rebellion. Lowering the threshold for entrance into local government is one way to reduce the threat of ethnic armed rebellion. In my research, I compare the costly approach of repression and cooptation through democratic institutions in nondemocratic regimes in order to underscore the consequence of these two strategies for ethnic minorities in nondemocratic regimes.