Associate Professor of Political Science
Séverine Autesserre joined the faculty of Barnard College in July 2007. Prior to coming to Barnard, she was a postdoctoral associate and lecturer at Yale University where she conducted research on civil and international wars, international intervention, and African politics.
Dr. Autesserre currently works on civil wars, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and African politics. Her teaching duties at Barnard include such courses as Aid, Violence, and Politics in Africa; Building Peace; Senior Research Seminar in International Relations; and Civil Wars and International Interventions in Africa. She also teaches two graduate classes at Columbia University: a seminar on civil wars and peace settlements at the School of International and Public Affairs, and a seminar on international peace interventions at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She is affiliated with the Barnard's Africana studies program, Columbia's Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies, and Columbia's Institute of African Studies.
Dr. Autesserre's latest research project examines successful international contributions to local and bottom-up peacebuilding. She published a short piece in International Peacekeeping in 2014 presenting some of the early ideas for this research.
Her previous project focused on the everyday elements that influence peacebuilding interventions on the ground. It included extensive fieldwork in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and briefer comparative research in Burundi, Cyprus, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste. The book based on this research, Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention, was released by Cambridge University Press in 2014. It won the 2016 Best Book of the Year Award from the International Studies Association as well as honorable mentions for two other book prizes (the 2014 Chadwick Alger Prize from the International Studies Association and the 2014 African Argument Book of the Year). Findings from this project have also appeared in Critique Internationale and African Affairs (the latter piece won the 2012 Best Article award from the African Politics Conference Group).
Dr. Autesserre's earlier research project focused on local violence and international intervention in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she has travelled regularly since 2001. It culminated in a book, entitled The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding (Cambridge University Press, 2010). The book won the 2012 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order and the 2011 Chadwick Alger Prize presented by the International Studies Association to the best book on international organizations and multilateralism. Research for this project has also appeared in Foreign Affairs, International Organization, the Review of African Political Economy, the African Studies Review, the African Security Review, the Revista de Relaciones Internationales, and the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs.
Professor Autesserre's work has been supported by two research awards from the United States Institute of Peace (2004-2005 and 2010-2012), two Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation research grants (2010 and 2011), a Presidential Research Award from Barnard (2010-2011), several grants from Columbia University (2010 – 2012), two Mellon Fellowships in Security and Humanitarian Action (2004-2006), and a Fulbright Fellowship (1999-2000). Her Ph.D. dissertation at New York University was nominated for the award for best dissertation for 2007 in the areas of in international relations, law, and politics. Her paper "Local Violence, National Peace? Post-war 'Settlement' in the Eastern D.R. Congo," was awarded the Graduate Student Paper Prize Award of the African Studies Association in 2006.
Professor Autesserre has extensive experience working with international humanitarian and development agencies in Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicaragua, India, and the United States. She has worked for organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and Doctors of the World.
Peacekeeping and peacebuilding
Politics of humanitarian and development aid
Democratic Republic of Congo
Selected syllabi are on-line.
- POLS BC 3810 Colloquium on Building Peace
(Cross-listed by the Human Rights Programs)
- POLS V 3604 Civil Wars and International Interventions in Africa
(Cross-listed by the Africana Studies Program, the Human Rights Program, and the Race & Ethnic Studies Program)
- POLS BC 3761 Senior Research Seminar in International Relations
- POLS BC 3810 Colloquium on Aid, Politics and Violence in Africa
(Cross-listed by the Africana Studies and the Human Rights Programs)
- POLS G 8823 Debates on International Peace Interventions
(Graduate-level seminar at Columbia University)
- INAF U8869 Civil Wars & Peace Settlements
(Graduate-level seminar at SIPA)
2015 Honorable mention, International Studies Association’ Chadwick Alger Award for best book on international organizations and multilateralism (for book “Peaceland”)
2014 Honorable mention, African Arguments’ Best Book of the Year (for book “Peaceland”)
2013 African Politics Conference Group’s Best Article Award (for article “Dangerous Tales”)
2012 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order (for book “The Trouble with the Congo”)
2011 International Studies Association’ Chadwick Alger Award for best book on international organizations and multilateralism (for book “The Trouble with the Congo”)
2006 Graduate Student Paper Prize Award, African Studies Association (for article “Local Violence, National Peace”)
Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention. Problems of International Politics series. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014
The Trouble With the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding. Cambridge Studies in International Relations series. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010
Articles in refereed journals
“Going Micro: Emerging and Future Peacekeeping Research,” International Peacekeeping 21 (4), pp. 492-500, Fall 2014
“Dangerous Tales - Dominant Narratives on the Congo and their Unintended Consequences,” African Affairs, 111 (443), pp. 202-222, Spring 2012
“Construire la Paix : Conceptions Collectives de son Etablissement, de son Maintien et de sa Consolidation,” Critique Internationale, 51, pp. 153-167, 2011. Translated by N. Ragaru (Original English version: “Constructing Peace: Collective Understandings of Peace, Peacemaking, Peacekeeping, and Peacebuilding,” http://www.ceri-sciences-po.org/publica/critique/51/art_sa.pdf)
“Hobbes and the Congo – Frames, Local Violence, and International Intervention in the Congo,” International Organization, 63, pp. 249-280, 2009 (Reprinted in Erica Chenoweth (ed.), Political Violence, Sage Library of International Relations, Sage Publications, 2014 / Spanish translation “Hobbes y el Congo: Marcos, Violencia Local e Intervención Internacional,” Revista de Relaciones Internationales, 16, pp. 97-134, 2011)
“D.R. Congo: Explaining Peace Building Failures, 2003 – 2006,” Review of African Political Economy, 113 (34), pp. 423-442, 2007
“Local violence, National Peace? Post-War ‘Settlement’ in the Eastern D.R. Congo,” African Studies Review, 49 (3), pp. 1-29, 2006
Other publications in refereed journals
“The Trouble With the Congo: A Precis,” Book Symposium on “The Trouble With the Congo,” African Security Review, 20(2), pp. 56-65, 2011
“Seven Commentaries, Three Debates and One Book: the Author's Response,” Book Symposium on “The Trouble With the Congo,” African Security Review, 20(2), pp. 114-124, 2011
“The Responsibility to Protect in the Congo: The Failure of Prevention” in O’Bannon, Brett and Bellamy, Alex (eds.) The Evolution of the Responsibility to Protect: Imperfect Duties?, New York: Routledge, accepted for publication, forthcoming 2015
“Penser les Conflits Locaux: L’Echec de l’Intervention Internationale au Congo” (Understanding Local Conflicts: the Failure of the International Intervention in the Congo), L’Afrique des Grands Lacs : Annuaire 2007-2008, Paris: L’Harmattan, pp. 179-196, 2008
“Peacetime Violence - Post-Conflict Violence and Peace-Building Strategies.” Program on States and Security, 2009. www.statesandsecurity.org
“The Trouble with Congo - How Local Disputes Fuel Regional Violence,” Foreign Affairs, 87 (3), pp. 94-110, May/June 2008
“Kongo’da siddet ve ölüm kültürü” (Violence and the Culture of Death in the Congo), Birikim (Turkey), 174, pp. 88-96, 2003. Translated by K. Caliskan
“The United States’ ‘Humanitarian Diplomacy’ in South Sudan,” Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, January 2002, www.jha.ac
In the News
Political science professor draws on her experience working on the ground in crisis zones
Political science professor reflects on her experience working in conflict zones
Watch political science Professor Séverine Autesserre share her journey from aspiring reporter to activist to Ivy League professor in the first episode of Barnard's Pathways to Passion series.
"Peaceland" receives honorable mention for the prestigious Chadwick Alger Prize
Political science professor discusses her experience working on the ground in crisis zones