When she applied for the fellowship program, Thompson wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to do her thesis on, but she knew that it would involve non-state groups and political actors. She settled on Hezbollah, Arabic for “Party of God,” and the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) because they’re two non-state actors that have separate but active militant and political arms.
Thompson described how she spent the summer looking for answers to questions such as why the PIRA transformed from a militant group to a political one and how Hezbollah maintains having both factions function.
“The great thing about this fellowship was that I didn’t need to produce something right now,” Thompson said. “I could take the time to understand and learn.”
She feels that she now has developed a mastery of the concepts, a depth of knowledge and the vocabulary to analyze and talk about both groups.
“Now, I’m at a jumping off point for figuring out what I want to say,” she said.
Thompson’s most immediate plan to tackle the next stage of her project is to keep looking for ways Hezbollah and the PIRA are similar.