Zvobgo_Portrait_elbow patches.jpg

Kelebogile / ki-le-bu-hi-le / 1. I am grateful. [Setswana]

Zvobgo / zhrob-go / 1. That which has always been. [Shona]


I am Provost's Fellow in the Social Sciences at the University of Southern California, where I recently defended my Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations. Beginning in fall 2021, I will be an Assistant Professor of Government at William & Mary. I received my B.A. (with honors) in International Relations and French Language & Literature from Pomona College in 2014. I have been a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow since 2017 and I founded the International Justice Lab in 2019.

My research broadly engages questions in human rights, transitional justice, and international law. My work has been published or is forthcoming in the International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Human Rights, PS: Political Science & Politics, and Journal of Political Science Education, as well as in Foreign Policy and The Washington Post. My work has been recognized in the United States and abroad, winning multiple awards, including the award for best paper from the Human Rights Section of the International Studies Association and from the Human Rights Section of the American Political Science Association. In 2021, I received the Lawrence S. Finkelstein Prize from the International Organization Section of the International Studies Association. 

My primary research focuses on quasi-judicial bodies that have proliferated around the globe to fill the gaps left by domestic and international law and courts. Like courts, these accountability mechanisms collect statements from individuals who have been harmed by state or non-state actors, conduct an investigation, and enjoin appropriate reparative actions. Thus far, my work in this research stream has extended to truth commissions and international development banks' compliance mechanisms. 


My book project, Governing Truth: NGOs and the Politics of Transitional Justice, produces a new model of transnational advocacy and advocacy networks, the burden sharing model, to explain why some governments but not others adopt transitional justice (TJ) institutions, design them to succeed, and follow up on them with particular policies. The central argument is that domestic and international civil society actors, who compose a global TJ network, alternate advocacy leadership at different stages: domestic groups are critical for TJ adoption, international experts are vital for strong TJ design, and domestic groups are essential for TJ delivery and follow-up. With a focus on truth commissions, the project demonstrates that governments are more likely to: create commissions where domestic groups are stronger; afford commissions key investigative powers when they are advised by international experts; and implement specific commission recommendations (e.g., reparations) championed by domestic groups. The project presents evidence from statistical analyses of novel data from the Varieties of Truth Commissions. The datasets capture the universe of commissions, their mandates and powers, their recommendations, and levels of implementation across recommendations. The project also presents case studies and probes causal pathways using evidence from fieldwork, including interviews, focus groups, and archival research. Study participants include government officials, former commission leaders, representatives of international organizations and international non-governmental organizations, and human rights advocates in Argentina, Canada, Guatemala, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. Additional fieldwork in South Africa and Timor-Leste is forthcoming.

Outside of academia, I am an avid traveler, runner, and Zumba enthusiast. My lightbulb moments tend to happen when I'm on the move.