Séverine Autesserre is a Professor of Political Science, specializing in international relations and African studies, at Barnard College, Columbia University. She works on civil wars, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, and humanitarian aid. She 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. Her teaching duties at Barnard include such courses as Aid, Violence, and Politics in Africa (Colloquium) as well as Civil Wars and International Interventions in Africa. She also teaches a seminar on civil wars and peace settlements at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. 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 was awarded an AC4 interdisciplinary research award in 2010 and 2011 (competitive renewal) for her work on international interventions in conflict.
Professor Autesserre's latest research project examines successful international contributions to local and bottom-up peacebuilding. Her 2014 article in International Peacekeeping presents some of the early ideas for this research. Her 2017 article in the International Studies Review, her Op-Eds in the Washington Post (here and here) and her Foreign Affairs pieces (here and here) present her first findings. In academic years 2016-2018, she will work full time on this project as an Andrew Carnegie Fellow, with additional research support from the Folke Bernadotte Academy and the Gerda Henkel Foundation.
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 and the 2015 Yale H. Ferguson Award from the International Studies Association as well as honorable mentions for two other book prizes (the 2015 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).
Her earlier research project focused on local violence and international intervention in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Dr. Autesserre has travelled regularly since 2001. Her fieldwork and analysis culminated in The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding, published by Cambridge University Press in 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, International Peacekeeping, the Revista de Relaciones Internationales, and the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs. It is the topic of a recent TED Talk that has more than 750,000 views.
Professor Autesserre's work has won numerous other prizes and fellowships, including 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 College (2010), several grants from Columbia University (2010 – 2016), two Mellon Fellowships in Security and Humanitarian Action (2004-2006), the 2006 Best Graduate Student Paper award from the African Studies Association, and a Fulbright Fellowship (1999-2000).
Before becoming an academic, Dr. Autesserre worked for humanitarian organizations (including Doctors Without Borders and Doctors of the World) and development agencies in Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicaragua, and India. She holds a post-doctorate from Yale University (2007), a Ph.D. in political science from New York University (2006), and master’s degrees in international relations and political science from Columbia University (2000) and Sciences Po (France, 1999).