Dr. Nic Cheeseman
I joined the African Studies Centre in 2007-08, having previously been a Junior Research Fellow at New College, also at Oxford University. My training is in political science, and my time is split equally between the Department of Politics and International Relations and African Studies.
For the African Studies MSc I convene the first term of the Core Course on Themes in African History and Social Sciences, and offer an option on Democracy in Africa. I also lecture on comparative method and the use of surveys in Africa, and supervise students working on contemporary politics. I was awarded a Teaching Excellence Award in 2008. For the past four years I have also been the Chair of Examiners for the African Studies Centre.
The main focus of my research is democratization. My doctoral work, which won the Arthur McDougall Dissertation Prize for the Best Dissertation on Elections, Electoral Systems or Representation from the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom, looked at how leaders sought to build and maintain power in the one-party states of Kenya and Zambia. I argued that the different strategies that president’s employed shaped their ability to survive the reintroduction of multiparty elections in the 1990s. Subsequently, my research has addressed questions such as when ruling parties lose power, whether paying tax makes citizens less tolerant of corruption, whether populism is an effective electoral strategy in Africa, and how political systems can be designed to prevent political competition from leading to ethnic violence. I have conducted work in Ghana, Malawi, and Nigeria, but my main country expertise is in Kenya and Zambia.
I have published on many of these topics in journals such as African Affairs, Democratization, the Journal of Democracy and the Journal of Modern African Studies. My first monograph, Democracy in Africa, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. I have also co-edited two collections. The first, Our Turn To Eat, which covers the politics of Kenya since independence, was published in 2010. The second, The Handbook of African Politics, will be published in late 2012.
I am always keen to work with policy makers to explain the implications of my research. Over the last four years I have advised NGOs such as the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and CLEEN in Nigeria. I also delivered talks and consultancy services to the Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, and the Department for International Development of the UK government, the Instituto Rio Branco of the Brazilian government, the Governor of Lagos State, the Pan African Parliament, and the World Bank.
Since the summer of 2011 I have been Joint Editor of African Affairs, the ♯1 journal in African Studies, and also edit a website, www.democracyinafrica.org, which is dedicated to creating an online community of people that are interested in, and care about, the state of democracy in Africa.