Sebastian Elischer

Assistant Professor of Political Science


Areas of Interest/Research

democratization, institutional reform, political Islam, ethnicity, sub-Saharan Africa


PhD Jacobs University Bremen, MIS George Washington University, MA Free University Berlin, BA University of Wales/ Aberystwyth

Sebastian Elischer joined the University of Florida in the fall of 2015.  His work analyzes the interplay between identities and institutions. He is particularly interested in how identities shape and affect procedural democratization in sub-Saharan Africa.

In his first book Sebastian Elischer examined the salience of ethnic identities at the aggregate level of political parties in sub-Saharan Africa. His subsequent monograph Political Parties in Africa: Ethnicity and Party Formation was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. It argues that the conventional conception of African parties as ethnic parties is wrong. Instead the African political landscape is considerably more diverse. Whereas ethnic parties dominate in some countries, non-ethnic parties have become the norm in others. Elischer finds a correlation between a country’s ethnic make-up and the salience of political ethnicity: countries with a core ethnic group are prone to form non-ethnic parties. In countries lacking a core ethnic group, ethnic parties constitute the norm. The book attracted reviews by Foreign Affairs, Party Politics, Political Science Quarterly, Perspectives on Politics, the Journal of Modern African Studies and African Studies Quarterly. His work on African parties also led to the publication of articles in Africa Spectrum and Democratization and a number of chapters in edited volumes. He received generous support from the Jacobs University Bremen (Germany) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

His current work examines the nature and effect of religious regulation in areas of weak statehood. A summary of the research project can be found here. He recently published some initial findings from the Republic of Niger in African Affairs. Currently he is working on a number of additional articles. For this project he received generous support from the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

Sebastian Elischer regularly contributes to public debates on Africa. His most recent commentaries appeared in Foreign Affairs and the Monkey Cage. He is also a co-editor of the Africa Yearbook. Further details are available in his CV.

Selected Publications

2018: Governing the Faithful. State Management of Salafi Activity in the Francophone Sahel. Comparative Politics (forthcoming; October 2018)

2016 (with Matthijs Bogaards). Competitive Authoritarianism in Africa Revisited. Comparative Governance and Politics 10 (1): 5-18.

2015. Autocratic Legacies and State Management of Islamic Activism in Niger. African Affairs 114 (457): 577-597
2013. Political Parties in Africa: Ethnicity and Party Formation. Cambridge University Press.
2012. Measuring and Comparing Party Ideology in Nonindustrialized Societies: Taking Party Manifesto Research to Africa. Democratization 19 (4): 642-667.

Contact Information
Phone: (352) 273-2359
Office: 212 Anderson Hall

Office Hours: by appointment only

Mailing address:
212 Anderson Hall
P.O. Box 117325
Gainesville, FL 32611-7325