Recommended Faculty Publications
Jeremy Weinstein, Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence
Cambridge University Press, 2006
“Some rebel groups abuse noncombatant populations, while others exhibit restraint. Insurgent leaders in some countries transform local structures of government, while others simply extractresources for their own benefit. In some contexts, groups kill their victims selectively, while in other environments violence appears indiscriminate, even random. This book presents a theory that accounts for the different strategies pursued by rebel groups in civil war, explaining why patterns of insurgent violence vary so much across conflicts. It does so by examining the membership, structure, and behavior of four insurgent movements in Uganda, Mozambique, and Peru. Drawing on interviews with nearly 200 combatants and civilians who experienced violence firsthand, it shows that rebels' strategies depend in important ways on how difficult it is to launch a rebellion. The book thus demonstrates how characteristics of the environment in which rebellions emerge constrain rebel organization and shape the patterns of violence that civilians experience.” -- from the publisher
James Habyarimana, Macartan Humphreys, Daniel Posner, and Jeremy Weinstein, Coethnicity: Diversity and the Dilemmas of Collective Action
Russell Fage Foundation, 2009
"Ethnically homogenous communities often do a better job than diverse communities of producing public goods such as satisfactory schools and health care, adequate sanitation, and low levels of crime. Coethnicity reports the results of a landmark study that aimed to find out why diversity has this cooperation-undermining effect. The study, conducted in a neighborhood of Kampala, Uganda, notable for both its high levels of diversity and low levels of public goods provision, hones in on the mechanisms that might account for the difficulties diverse societies often face in trying to act collectively.
The Mulago-Kyebando Community Study uses behavioral games to explore how the ethnicity of the person with whom one is interacting shapes social behavior. Hundreds of local participants interacted with various partners in laboratory games simulating real-life decisions involving the allocation of money and the completion of joint tasks. Many of the subsequent findings debunk long-standing explanations for diversity's adverse effects. Contrary to the prevalent notion that shared preferences facilitate ethnic collective action, differences in goals and priorities among participants were not found to be structured along ethnic lines. Nor was there evidence that subjects favored the welfare of their coethnics over that of non-coethnics. When given the opportunity to act altruistically, individuals did not choose to benefit coethnics disproportionately when their actions were anonymous. Yet when anonymity was removed, subjects behaved very differently. With their actions publicly observed, subjects gave significantly more to coethnics, expected their partners to reciprocate, and expected that they would be sanctioned for a failure to cooperate. This effect was most pronounced among individuals who were otherwise least likely to cooperate.
Research on ethnic diversity typically draws on either experimental research or field work. Coethnicity does both. By taking the crucial step from observation to experimentation, this study marks a major breakthrough in the study of ethnic diversity." -- from the publisher
James Ferguson, Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order
Duke University Press, 2006
“Both on the continent and off, 'Africa' is spoken of in terms of crisis: as a place of failure and seemingly insurmountable problems, as a moral challenge to the international community. What, though, is really at stake in discussions about Africa, its problems, and its place in the world? And what should be the response of those scholars who have sought to understand not the “Africa” portrayed in broad strokes in journalistic accounts and policy papers but rather specific places and social realities within Africa?
In Global Shadows the renowned anthropologist James Ferguson moves beyond the traditional anthropological focus on local communities to explore more general questions about Africa and its place in the contemporary world.
Ferguson points out that anthropologists and others who have refused the category of Africa as empirically problematic have, in their devotion to particularity, allowed themselves to remain bystanders in the broader conversations about Africa. In Global Shadows, he urges fellow scholars into the arena, encouraging them to find a way to speak beyond the academy about Africa’s position within an egregiously imbalanced world order.” -- from the publisher
James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho
Cambridge University Press, 1990
“Development, it is generally assumed, is good and necessary, and in its name the West has intervened, implementing all manner of projects in the impoverished regions of the world. When these projects fail, as they do with astonishing regularity, they nonetheless produce a host of regular and unacknowledged effects, including the expansion of bureaucratic state power and the translation of the political realities of poverty and powerlessness into 'technical' problems awaiting solution by 'development' agencies and experts. It is the political intelligibility of these effects, along with the process that produces them, that this book seeks to illuminate through a detailed case study of the workings of the 'development' industry in one country, Lesotho, and in one "development" project.
Using an anthropological approach grounded in the work of Foucault, James Ferguson analyzes the institutional framework within which such projects are crafted and the nature of 'development discourse,' revealing how it is that, despite all the "expertise" that goes into formulating development projects, they nonetheless often demonstrate a startling ignorance of the historical and political realities of the locale they are intended to help. In a close examination of the attempted implementation of the Thaba-Tseka project in Lesotho, Ferguson shows how such a misguided approach plays out, how, in fact, the 'development' apparatus in Lesotho acts as an 'anti-politics machine,' everywhere whisking political realities out of sight and all the while performing, almost unnoticed, its own pre-eminently political operation of strengthening the state presence in the local region.” – from the publisher
Richard Roberts, Litigants and Households: African Disputes and Colonial Courts in the French Soudan, 1895-1912
“Why did Africans bring their most intimate domestic disputes to the newly created native courts in the period after 1905? And what do these disputes tell us about everyday life and social change? To answer these questions, Richard Roberts uses all 2,062 civil disputes heard at the provincial level native courts for four districts between 1905 and 1912.
He concludes that changes in social relations occurring at a time of accelerated change associated with colonial conquest and the end of slavery interacted with institutional changes, namely the creation of the new native courts, to produce discernible patterns of litigation.
Moreover, these patterns of litigation point to ‘trouble spots’ in African society, thus providing a lens into the most ordinary aspects of daily life.” -- from the publisher
Sean Hanretta, Islam and Social Change in French West Africa: History of an Emancipatory Community
Cambridge University Press, 2009
“Exploring the history and religious community of a group of Muslim Sufi mystics who came largely from socially marginal backgrounds in colonial French West Africa, this study shows the relationship between religious, social, and economic change in the region. It highlights the role that intellectuals - including not only elite men, but also women, slaves, and the poor - played in shaping social and cultural change and illuminates the specific religious ideas on which Muslims drew and the political contexts that gave their efforts meaning.
In contrast to depictions that emphasize the importance of international networks and anti-modern reaction in twentieth-century Islamic reform, this book claims that, in West Africa, such movements were driven by local forces and constituted only the most recent round in a set of centuries-old debates about the best way for pious people to confront social injustice. It argues that traditional historical methods prevent an appreciation of Muslim intellectual history in Africa by misunderstanding the nature of information gathering during colonial rule and misconstruing the relationship between documents and oral history.” -- from the publisher
Jenna Davis and Amy Pickering, “Freshwater availability and water fetching distance affect child health in sub-Saharan Africa”
Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 2012 Vol. 46 no. 4
“Currently, more than two-thirds of the population in Africa must leave their home to fetch water for drinking and domestic use. The time burden of water fetching has been suggested to influence the volume of water collected by households as well as time spent on income generating activities and child care. However, little is known about the potential health benefits of reducing water fetching distances. Data from almost 200 000 Demographic and Health Surveys carried out in 26 countries were used to assess the relationship between household walk time to water source and child health outcomes.
To estimate the causal effect of decreased water fetching time on health, geographic variation in freshwater availability was employed as an instrumental variable for one-way walk time to water source in a two-stage regression model. Time spent walking to a household’s main water source was found to be a significant determinant of under-five child health. A 15-min decrease in one-way walk time to water source is associated with a 41% average relative reduction in diarrhea prevalence, improved anthropometric indicators of child nutritional status, and a 11% relative reduction in under-five child mortality. These results suggest that reducing the time cost of fetching water should be a priority for water infrastructure investments in Africa.” -- from the authors
Paula Ebron, Performing Africa
Princeton University Press, 2002
“Africa often enters the global imagination through news accounts of ethnic war, famine, and despotic political regimes. Those interested in countering such dystopic images--be they cultural nationalists in the African diaspora or connoisseurs of 'global culture'--often found their representations of an emancipatory Africa on an enthusiasm for West African popular culture and performance arts.
Based on extensive field research in The Gambia and focusing on the figure of the jali, Performing Africa interrogates these representations together with their cultural and political implications. It explores how Africa is produced, circulated, and consumed through performance and how encounters through performance create the place of Africa in the world. Innovative and discerning, Performing Africa is a provocative contribution to debates over cultural nationalism and the construction of identity and history in Africa and elsewhere.” -- from the publisher
Grant Parker, The Making of Roman India
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008
“Latin and especially Greek texts of the imperial period contain a wealth of references to 'India'. Professor Parker offers a survey of such texts, read against a wide range of other sources, both archaeological and documentary.
He emphasises the social processes whereby the notion of India gained its exotic features, including the role of the Persian empire and of Alexander's expedition. Three kinds of social context receive special attention: the trade in luxury commodities; the political discourse of empire and its limits; and India's status as a place of special knowledge, embodied in 'naked philosophers'.
Roman ideas about India ranged from the specific and concrete to the wildly fantastic and the book attempts to account for such variety. It ends by considering the afterlife of such ideas into late antiquity and beyond." -- from the publisher
Pascaline Dupas and Jonathon Robinson, “The (Hidden) Costs of Political Instability: Evidence from Kenya's 2007 Election Crisis”
Journal of Development Economics, 2012 Vol. 99 No. 2
“This paper studies the microeconomic impacts of the political crisis and civil conﬂict that immediately followed the December 2007 presidential election in Kenya. Income, expenditures, and consumption dramatically declined for a broad segment of the rural population for the duration of the conﬂict. To make up for the income shortfall, women who supply transactional sex engaged in higher risk sex both during and after the crisis.
While this particular crisis was likely too short for these behavioral responses to seriously increase the risk of HIV or other STIs for these women, such responses could have long-term repercussions for health in countries with longer or more frequent crises. Overall, our results suggest that social unrest can be an important channel through which political instability can aﬀect long-term outcomes such as health. “ – from the authors
Eran Bendavid, Jay Bhattacharya, Charles Holmes, Grant Parker, “HIV Development Assistance and Adult Mortality in Africa”
Journal of the American Medical Association, 2012 Vol. 307 No. 19
"The effect of global health initiatives on population health is uncertain. Between 2003 and 2008, the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest initiative ever devoted to a single disease, operated intensively in 12 African focus countries. The initiative's effect on all-cause adult mortality is unknown.
To determine whether PEPFAR was associated with relative changes in adult mortality in the countries and districts where it operated most intensively.
Using person-level data from the Demographic and Health Surveys, we conducted cross-country and within-country analyses of adult mortality (annual probability of death per 1000 adults between 15 and 59 years old) and PEPFAR's activities. Across countries, we compared adult mortality in 9 African focus countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia) with 18 African nonfocus countries from 1998 to 2008. We performed subnational analyses using information on PEPFAR's programmatic intensity in Tanzania and Rwanda. We employed difference-in-difference analyses with fixed effects for countries and years as well as personal and time-varying area characteristics." -- from the authors
David Abernethy, The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415-1980
Yale University press, 2002
"For centuries Europeans ruled vast portions of the world, as inhabitants of west European countries sailed to distant continents and took possession of territories whose societies and economies they set out to change. How and why did these far flung empires form, persist, and finally fall? David Abernethy addresses these questions in this magisterial survey of the rise and decline of European overseas empires.
Abernethy identifies broad patterns across time and space, interweaving them with fascinating details of cross-cultural encounters. He argues that relatively autonomous profit-making, religious, and governmental institutions enabled west European countries to launch triple assaults on other societies. Indigenous people also played a role in their eventual subjugation by inviting Europeans to intervene in their power struggles. Abernethy finds that imperial decline was often the unanticipated result of wars among major powers. Postwar crises over colonies' unmet expectations empowered movements that eventually took territories as diverse as the thirteen British North American colonies, Spain's South American possessions, India, the Dutch East Indies, Vietnam, and the Gold Coast to independence.
In advancing a theory of imperialism that includes European and non- European actors, and in analyzing economic, social, and cultural as well as political dimensions of empire, Abernethy helps account for Europe's long occupation of global center stage. He also sheds light on key features of today's postcolonial world and the legacies of empire, concluding with an insightful approach to the moral evaluation of colonialism." -- from the publisher