Lahra Smith

Lahra Smith
Lahra Smith
Associate Professor
479 ICC

Associate Professor

Lahra Smith is a Political Scientist with a particular interest in African politics. She is an Associate Professor in the African Studies Program of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.  Prof. Smith has conducted fieldwork on the role of political institutions in addressing conflict based largely on ethnic and language identities in Ethiopia.  Her current research focuses on the questions of equality and citizenship in contemporary Africa. She was the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Ethnicity and Multicultural Citizenship at Queen’s University, Canada in 2010, and she has had funding support from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Fulbright-Hays fellowship program..

Areas of Expertise: African politics, political institutions, ethnic conflict, citizenship, women and politics, civic education, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania.

  • Ph.D. (2005) University of California, Los Angeles, Political Science
  • M.A. (2000) University of California, Los Angeles, African Area Studies
  • B.A. (1997) University of New Hampshire, Political Science & Anthropology



Making Citizens in Africa: Ethnicity, Gender and National Identity in Ethiopia, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2013


“How are Citizens Made?” Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog, Sept 16, 2014 

“A Disturbance or a Massacre? The Consequences of Electoral Violence in Ethiopia,” in Voting in Fear: Electoral Violence in sub-Saharan Africa edited by Dorina Bekoe, Washington, DC: USIP Press Books

“Explaining Violence after Recent Elections in Ethiopia and Kenya,” Democratization, 16, 5, October, 867-897

“Is Ethnic Federalism Bad for Ethiopian Women?” The Ethiopian Constitutional Law Series, Vol. 2, Faculty of Law, Addis Ababa University, May 2009, 301-350

“The Politics of Contemporary Language Policy in Ethiopia,” Journal of Developing Societies, 24, 2, 207-243

“Voting for an Ethnic Identity: Procedural and Institutional Responses to Ethnic Conflict in Ethiopia,” The Journal of Modern African Studies, 45, 4, 565-594

“Implications of the 2005 Elections for Ethiopian Citizenship and State Legitimacy,” International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, III, 1

“Political Violence and Democratic Uncertainty In Ethiopia since the 2005 Elections,” United States Institute of Peace (USIP) Political Transitions in Africa Series, Special Report No. 192, August 2007

“Obstacles to Implementing Territorial Decentralization: The First Decade of Ethiopian Federalism,” with Dr. Edmond J. Keller, in Sustainable Peace: Democracy and Power-Dividing Institutions after Civil Wars, Edited by Philip G. Roeder and Donald Rothchild, NY: Cornell University Press