FACULTY | Daniel Posner
Daniel Posner is the Total Chair on Contemporary Africa and Professor of Political Science. His most recent co-authored book, Coethnicity: Diversity and the Dilemmas of Collective Action (Russell Sage, 2009) employs experimental games to probe the sources of poor public goods provision in ethnically diverse communities. His first book, Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa (Cambridge, 2005), explains why and when politics revolves around one dimension of ethnic cleavage rather than another. He has received several awards for his work, including the Luebbert Award for best book in Comparative Politics (2006 and 2010), the Heinz Eulau Award for the best article in the American Political Science Review (2008), the Michael Wallerstein Award for the best article in Political Economy (2008), the best book award from the African Politics Conference Group (2006), and the Sage Award for the best paper in Comparative Politics presented at the APSA annual meeting (2004). He has been a Harvard Academy Scholar (1995-98), a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution (2001-02), a Carnegie Scholar (2003-05) and, most recently, a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (2010-11). He currently serves on the editorial boards of World Politics, PS, and the Annual Review of Political Science. He is the co-founder of the Working Group in African Political Economy (WGAPE). He received his BA from Dartmouth College and his PhD from Harvard University. Before coming to MIT, he taught for twelve years at UCLA.
Posner's research focuses on ethnic politics, research design, distributive politics and the political economy of development in Africa. His work investigates, among other topics, the sources of ethnic identification and the political, social and economic outcomes that ethnicity affects—coalition-building, voting, collective action, public goods provision, and economic growth—with special attention to the mechanisms through which it has its impact. His methodological approach is to find creative ways to maximize leverage for making strong descriptive and causal claims, through the use of experiments (in the lab, in the field, and occurring "naturally"), new data sources (including the re-appropriation of data collected for other purposes), and the adoption of techniques from other disciplines such as satellite geography, public health, and behavioral economics.
"Who Benefits from Distributive Politics? How the Outcome One Studies Affects the Answer One Gets." Perspectives on Politics. Forthcoming (with Eric Kramon).
"Political Competition and Ethnic Identification in Africa." American Journal of Political Science 54, 2 (April 2010): 494-510 (with Benn Eifert and Edward Miguel).
Coethnicity: Diversity and the Dilemmas of Collective Action. New York: Russell Sage Foundation (2009) (with James Habyarimana, Macartan Humphreys, and Jeremy M. Weinstein).
"Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision?" American Political Science Review 101, 4 (November 2007): 709-725 (with James Habyarimana, Macartan Humphreys, and Jeremy M. Weinstein).
"The Institutionalization of Political Power in Africa." Journal of Democracy 18, 3 (July 2007): 126-140 (with Daniel J. Young).
Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press (2005).
"The Political Salience of Cultural Difference: Why Chewas and Tumbukas are Allies in Zambia and Adversaries in Malawi." American Political Science Review 98, 4 (November 2004): 529-545.
"Measuring Ethnic Fractionalization in Africa." American Journal of Political Science 48, 4 (October 2004): 849-863.
To Be Determined