Sebastian Elischer


Assistant Professor

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 as assistant professor 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 my first project 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. 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, 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.

Recently he started a new project on the various manifestations of Salafism in Africa. The project examines if and how the weak states of the Sahel regulate and manage Islamic activity. 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.

You can view Sebastian Elischer’s most recent work on Informal Institutions and State Management of Religious Activity in the Sahel here.

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

2016 (with Matthijs Bogaards). Competitive Authoritarianism in Africa Revisited. Comparative Governance and Politics(forthcoming)
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: Monday 4PM to 6PM. Wednesday 10AM to 11AM.

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