Adrienne LeBas (PhD, Columbia University) is Associate Professor of Government in the School of Public Affairs at American University. Prior to joining AU, LeBas was a Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and Assistant Professor of Political Science and African Studies at Michigan State University. Her research interests include social movements, democratization, and political violence. She is the author of the award-winning From Protest to Parties: Party-Building and Democratization in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2011), as well as articles in the Journal of Democracy, Comparative Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, and elsewhere. LeBas also worked as a consultant for Human Rights Watch in Zimbabwe, where she lived from 2002 to 2003. Her most recent work looks at attitudes toward taxation in urban Nigeria.

Project Summary

Why do some democratizing countries fall prey to significant electoral violence, while others avoid it? And why does violence often persist – or even escalate in severity – over election cycles? Political science explanations stress elite manipulation and the salience of identity conflict, but these factors are not convincing explanations. Drawing on cases in Africa and elsewhere, this project examines the organizational roots of electoral violence, suggesting that politicians rarely retain control over the “specialists” they hire. Over time, violence specialists build autonomous organizations, undermine the rule of law, and play consequential roles in the institutionalization of violence into the electoral process.

Major Publications

From Protest to Parties: Party-Building and Democratization in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2011).

The Origins of Voluntary Compliance: Attitudes toward Taxation in Urban Nigeria, British Journal of Political Science, published online September 2014.

A New Twilight in Zimbabwe? The Perils of Power-Sharing in The Journal of Democracy 25:2 (April 2014), 52-66.