Laura Thaut Vinson

Assistant Professor of International Affairs

I am an Assistant Professor of International Affairs here at Lewis & Clark College (Fall 2017-), and I previously taught in the Political Science Department at Oklahoma State University (2014-2017). I received my PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2013. My research interests are in the areas of ethnic/religious conflict, religion and international affairs, African politics, and humanitarianism. 

Prior to teaching at Lewis & Clark College and Oklahoma State University, I was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College (2013-2014). I have also held internships with the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Embassy to Lithuania; the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Belgrade, Serbia; and Islamic Relief in the UK. From 2005-2006 I received a Fulbright student fellowship to conduct research in Lithuania.

Specialty

African politics, Ethnic/religious conflict, Religion and global politics, Humanitarianism

Academic Credentials

PhD, Political Science, University of Minnesota, 2013

MA, Political Science, University of Minnesota, 2009

BA, Political Science/International Studies, Whitworth University, 2005

Teaching

IA 230: African Politics: Themes in Democracy, Development, & Conflict

IA 362: The Politics of Humanitarian Intervention & Violence

IA 220: The Global South

IA 262: Religion & Global Politics

IA-430: Senior Seminar

Previous courses taught: Civil War & Ethnic Conflict, Comparative Politics

Research

Based on fieldwork in Nigeria, my 2017 book Religion, Violence, and Local Power-Sharing in Nigeria (Cambridge University Press) examines the role of informal, local government power-sharing institutions in shaping whether religious identity becomes a fault line of communal violence. My article “Disaggregating ethnicity and conflict patterns: Evidence from religious and tribal violence in Nigeria” came out in Ethnopolitics, and my chapter “Pastoralism, Ethnicity, and Subnational Conflict Resolution in the Middle Belt” is now out in the new Oxford Handbook of Nigerian Politics (2018).

My most recent publications below (2021) with Peter Rudloff (Oklahoma State University) are based on our work carrying out a 2016 survey experiment in Jos, Nigeria. This work looks at how the particular “ethnic” characterization of conflict (e.g., as religious vs. tribal) affects how community members perceive their ethnic counterparts and the root causes of the crises.

  • “Ethnicities and Conflict: A Survey Experiment on the Effect of Narrative Framing on Perceptions in Jos, Nigeria.” Ethnopolitics. Link here
  • “Surveys in Communities Divided by Ethnicities and Conflict: Challenges, Possible Solutions, and Lessons Learned from a Survey Experiment in Jos, Nigeria.” Sociological Methods & Research. link here
  • “Perceptions of Local vs. National Factors in Religious and Tribal Conflict: Evidence from a Survey in Jos Nigeria.” Politics and Religion. Link here

My other research has been published in the Journal of Peace Research (with Jonas Bunte), Ethnopolitics, Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, International Migration, and four edited volumes: The Oxford Handbook of Nigerian Politics (Carl Levan and Patrick Ukata, eds.), The Credibility of Transnational NGOs (with Michael Barnett and Janice Gross Stein), Religion and Development (with Ajaz Ahmed Khan), and Transforming America (with Carla DePriest).