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Discussing Nigeria on the PBS NewsHour

Carl LeVan

Associate Professor School of International Service

LeVan focuses on comparative political institutions, democratization, and African security.  His book,"Dictators and Democracy in African Development: The Political Economy of Good Governance in Nigeria" (Cambridge University Press, 2015) explains two categories of public policy performance over fifty years, challenging conventional explanations that blame ethnicity, oil, foreign debt, and other factors. African Studies Quarterly calls it a "seminal book." His co-authored essay with with SPA Professor Todd Eisenstadt and PhD student Tofigh Maboudi appears in the August 2015 issue of the American Political Science Review, the oldest and most influential political science journal. They find that citizen participation in constitution-making has long term positive effects on the level of democracy. He has also published influential critiques of power sharing in Africa and on the Department of Defense's U.S. Africa Command. His 2011 essay "Questioning Tocqueville in Africa" won the Frank Cass Prize for Best Article by a Young Scholar from Routledge/Taylor & Francis Publishing. Other recent research examines the economic consequences of coalition governments in Africa, and property rights and migration in Abuja, Nigeria.

A collection of essays published in 2015 (with Joseph Fashagba and Edward McMahon) examines state-level legislative politics in Africa.

Prior to joining academia, he worked for U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and then as the National Democratic Institute's country director in Nigeria. He publishes the blog, Development4security and tweets @Dev4Security. A frequent commentator on African politics, he has appeared on PBS NewsHour, NPR's Diane Rehm Show, Voice of America TV, BBC World Television, al Jazeera, MSNBC, Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! and other shows.


PhD, political science, University of California, San Diego; MA, political science, American University; BA, political science, George Washington University

Favorite Spot on Campus
The CRS lounge, and the Korean garden
Favorite Place in Washington DC
I like Open City, Politics & Prose, and Qualia. I try to go to either the Black Cat or the 930 once a month!

Download Resume (PDF)

SIS-School of Intl Service
SIS - 343
Spring 2015 office hours: Tuesdays from 1 to 4 and by appointment
Contact Info
(202) 885-2457 (Office)
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.
See Also
Professor LeVan's blog and website

Partnerships & Affiliations

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

Dr. LeVan's research interests include comparative democratization, political institutions and economic development, and authoritarianism.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Co-Leader, American Political Science Association's Africa Workshop, funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, 2011
  • AU Curriculum Development Award for "Representation in the Developing World," 2011  
  • USAID in-kind grant for AU workshop on "The Consequences of Inclusive Governance," 2009  
  • American Political Science Association travel grant for Annual Conference, 2006   
  • Institute for International, Comparative and Area Studies field research grant, 2005   
  • Fulbright grant for dissertation research in Nigeria, 2003 – 2004 academic year   
  • Seymour Melman Fellowship, Institute for Policy Studies, 2001   
  • Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science National Honor Society, 1998   
  • Pi Alpha Alpha Public Affairs National Honor Society, 1998


Executive Experience

  • Secretary, Board of Directors, the Daima Project
  • Member, American Political Science Association
  • Member, African Studies Association
  • Member, Midwest Political Science Association
  • Member, International Studies Association
  • Member, African Politics Conference Group
  • Member, Nigerian Studies Association
  • Member, Working Group and African Political Economy
  • Member, Fulbright Association
  • Member, National Board of Directors, Education for Peace in Iraq Center (2003 – 2004)

Selected Publications


  • Dictators and Democracy in African Development: the Political Economy of Good Governance in Nigeria (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

  • African State Governance: Subnational Politics and National Power, edited with Joseph Olayinka Fashagba and Edward McMahon (Palgrave, forthcoming 2015)

    ·         “Parallel Institutionalism and the Future of Representation in Nigeria,” Journal of Contemporary African Studies (forthcoming 2015).

    ·         “’I am Here until Development Comes:’ Displacement, Demolitions, and Property Rights in Urbanizing Nigeria,” (with Josiah Olubowale) African Affairs 113, 452 (July 2014): 387-408.

    ·         “Analytic Authoritarianism and Nigeria,” Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 52, 2 (January 2014): 1-20. 

    ·         “Sectarian Rebellions in Post-Transition Nigeria Compared,” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 8, 1 (2013): 1-18.
  • “Parties or Portfolio? The Economic Effects of Africa’s Cumbersome Cabinets, 1971-2006,” (with Assen Assenov) Government and Opposition (forthcoming 2015).

  • "Power Sharing in Africa's Uncertain Democracies," in Governance: an International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions, Vol. 24, No. 1, January 2011.   
  • "Questioning Tocqueville in Africa: Continuity and Change in Civil Society During Nigeria's Democratization," Democratization, January 2011.   
  • "The Consequences of African Cabinet Size, 1972 - 2004," with Assen Assenov (under review).   
  • "Decentralization and Corruption in Nigeria's Education Sector," (working paper).   
  • "Keeping Baloney Out of Africa," The Hill, 2008.   
  • "Next Steps for Nigeria's Democracy,"International Affairs Forum, January 2008.   
  • In Democracy's Shadow: the Secret World of National Security, co-edited with Marcus Raskin, Nation Books, 2005.   
  • "Be Careful Libby Case Doesn't Lead to More Secrecy," The Hill, November 2005.   
  • "Elections in Nigeria: Is the Third Time a Charm?" (Principal co-author, with Joyce Pitso and Bodunrin Adebo) in Journal of African Elections 2, 2003.

Congressional Testimony

  • Briefing chair, "African Security Policy," Subcommittee on International Operations, House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Congress (December 2008)

AU Expert

Area of Expertise: Nigeria, African politics, development, democratization

Additional Information: Carl LeVan has recently published articles about the U.S. Africa Command (in Africa Today),Nigerian democratization (in the journal Democratization), and the problems presented by African power sharing agreements (in the journal Governance).  Prior to academia, he worked as the legislative director to U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and served as the National Democratic Institute's country director in Nigeria. He is currently carrying out research on the economic consequences of Africa’s cabinets and is writing a book about Nigerian government performance.  He publishes the blog Development4security. 

Media Relations
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