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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. African Studies Quarterly calls it a "seminal book." His new book, co-authored with with SPA Professor Todd Eisenstadt and Loyola University Professor Tofigh Maboudi, is "Constituents before Assembly" (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Their empirical study of all new constitutions 1974-2014 finds that participatory constitution-making has long term positive effects on the level of democracy. He is the co-editor, with Patrick Ukata, of the Oxford Handbook of Nigerian Politics (forthcoming from Oxford University Press, 2018). He has also published influential critiques of power sharing in Africa and 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 research examines 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 as a legislative director in the U.S. Congress and then as an adviser to Nigeria's National Assembly. 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!


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


  • Spring 2018

    • SISU-106 First Year Seminar: Freedom in Western Democ Thght
    • Description

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, Boko Haram

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 is the author of Dictators and Democracy in African Development: The Political Economy of Good Governance in Nigeria (2014). He publishes the blog Development4security.   LeVan has appeared on the Diane Rehm Show, Al Jazeera, PBS NewsHour, MSNBC and BBC. His commentaries have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, The Hill, and other national and international publications. 

Media Relations
To request an interview please call AU Media Relations at 202-885-5950 or submit an interview request form.

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