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Erin Hern

Erin Hern

Contact Information:


400B Eggers Hall

Erin Hern

Associate Professor, Political Science Department


PSC 123 - Comparative Government and Politics
PSC 351 - Political Economy of Development
PSC 400: Field Research Methods
PSC 694: Qualitative Political Analysis
PSC 700: Politics of Africa

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., Cornell University, 2015



Comparative politics, African politics, political participation, women and gender

Research Grant Awards and Projects

Explaining Successes in Africa: Things Don’t Always Fall Apart
Scholarship on Africa tends to focus on challenge: most political and economic works examine barriers to achieving desired outcomes like political stability, good governance and economic growth. While these challenges are real and important to consider, it is also essential to understand success. Scholars often treat African countries that perform well as outliers; they are “miracles” or “darlings” rather than countries that have made good choices in the face of adverse circumstances. Treating these countries as outliers diminishes the possibility of extracting lessons or best practices—if a country’s economic performance is a “miracle,” there is no lesson to be had. If its stable government is a function of exceptionalism, then there is no possibility of replication. This project seeks to normalize success in African countries by analyzing those that have performed particularly well in five essential categories: economy, governance, gender equality, public service delivery and infrastructure development.


2021. “Colonial Education and Women’s Political Behavior in Ghana and Senegal,” African Studies Review 64(1): 217-241.

2020. “Infrastructure and Perceptions of Democracy in Zambia: Democracy Off the Rails.” African Affairs 119(447): 604-632.

2020. “Gender and Participation in Africa’s Electoral Regimes: An Analysis of Variation in the Gender Gap.” Politics, Groups, and Identities. 8(2): 293-315.

2020. “Party Politics and Christianity in Zambia’s Third Republic,” in M. Hinfelaar and C. Kaunda, Eds. Competing for Caesar: Religion and Politics in Post-Colonial Zambia. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress. With Elizabeth Sperber. 

2020. “Preferences without Platforms: How Voters make Choices in Zambia’s Elections,” in Banda, Tinenengi, O’Brien Kaaba, Marja Hinfelaar, and Muna Ndulo, Eds. Democracy and Electoral Politics in Zambia. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers.

2019. Developing States, Shaping Citizenship: Service Delivery and Political Behavior in Zambia. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

2019. “Taking to the Streets: Protest Behavior in sub-Saharan Africa.” Comparative Political Studies 52(8): 1169-1199. With Adam Harris. 

2018. “Pentecostal Identity & Citizen Engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Evidence from Zambia.” Politics and Religion 11(4): 830-862. With Elizabeth Sperber. 

2017. “The Trouble with Institutions: How Women’s Policy Machineries Can Undermine Women’s Mass Participation.” Politics & Gender 13(3): 405-431. 

2017. “Better than Nothing: How Policies Influence Political Participation in Low-Capacity Democracies.” Governance 30(4): 583-600. 

2017. “In the Gap the State Left: Policy Feedback, Collective Behavior, and Political Participation in Zambia.” Studies in Comparative International Development 52(4): 510-531.