Professor Nic Cheeseman

Professor Nic Cheeseman

International Development Department
Professor of Democracy and International Development
Director of the Centre for Elections, Democracy, Accountability and Representation (CEDAR)

Contact details

Address
International Development Department
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Nic Cheeseman (@fromagehomme) is Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham. Formerly the Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford University, he is the Founding Director of Birmingham’s Centre for Elections, Democracy, Accountability and Representation (CEDAR). He mainly works on democracy, elections and development and has conducted in-country research in a range of African countries including Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, but has also published on Latin America and post-communist Europe. He is currently working on two projects: one looks at how to understand and support democratic resilience in an era of autocratization, and the other is to produce a history of African political thought.

The articles that he has published based on this research have won a number of prizes including the GIGA award for the best article in Comparative Area Studies (2013) and the Frank Cass Award for the best article in Democratization (2015). Professor Cheeseman is also the author or editor of more than ten books, including Democracy in Africa (2015), Institutions and Democracy in Africa (2017), How to Rig an Election (2018) – selected as one of the books of the year by the Spectator magazine – and Coalitional Presidentialism in Comparative Perspective (2018), Authoritarian Africa (2020), The Moral Economy of Elections in Africa (2020) and the Handbook of Kenyan Politics (2020). In addition, he is the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, a former editor of the journal African Affairs, and was an advisor to, and writer for, the African Progress Panel set up by Kofi Annan. 

In recognition of this academic and public contribution, the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom awarded him the prestigious Joni Lovenduski Prize for outstanding professional achievement in 2019. In recent years he has also won the Celebrating Impact prize of the Economic and Social Research Council for “outstanding international impact” and the Josiah Mason Award for Academic Advancement.

A frequent commentator of African and global events, Professor Cheeseman has appeared on CNN's flagship global affairs show One World, while his analysis has featured in the Economist, Le Monde, Financial Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, New York Times, BBC, and the Daily Nation, as well as his regular columns for the Mail & Guardian and The Africa Report. In total, his articles have been read over two million times. Many of his interviews and insights can be found on the website that he founded and co-edits, www.democracyinafrica.org. Most recently, Professor Cheeseman was part of the team that launched the Resistance Bureau, a new webinar and discussion space that brings together speakers from across Africa to discuss how democracy and freedom can best be strengthened and defended. Check out This is the Resistence Bureau for more details and past episodes.

Qualifications

  • D.Phil in Politics, University of Oxford, 2006
  • M.Phil in Politics, University of Oxford, 2003
  • B.A in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (Double First), 2001

Biography

Nic Cheeseman (@fromagehomme) is Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham and was formerly the Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford University. He mainly works on democracy, elections and development and has conducted in-country research in a range of African countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, but has also published on Latin America and post-communist Europe.

The articles that he has published based on this research have won a number of prizes including the GIGA award for the best article in Comparative Area Studies (2013) and the Frank Cass Award for the best article in Democratization (2015). Professor Cheeseman is also the author or editor of more than ten books, including Democracy in Africa (2015), Institutions and Democracy in Africa (2017), How to Rig an Election (2018), and Coalitional Presidentialism in Comparative Perspective (2018), Authoritarian Africa (2020), The Moral Economy of Elections in Africa (2020) and the Handbook of Kenyan Politics (2020). In addition, he is the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, a former editor of the journal African Affairs, and an advisor to, and writer for, the African Progress Panel set up by Kofi Anan. As of 2017 hs also serves on the board of Oxfam GB, and sits on the organization's Programme Committee, which provides input and advice to the programmes and projects that Oxfam GB supports around the world.

In recognition of this academic and public contribution, the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom awarded him the prestigious Joni Lovenduski Prize for outstanding professional achievement by a midcareer scholar in 2019. The same year, he was a finalist in the ESRC’s prestigious Celebrating Impact prize. A frequent commentator of African and global events, Professor Cheeseman is a regular guest on CNN's new flagship global affairs show One World, while his analysis has appeared in the Economist, Le Monde, Financial Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, New York Times, BBC, and the Daily Nation, as well as his regular columns for the Mail & Guardian and The Africa Report. In total, his articles have been read over two million times. Many of his interviews and insights can be found on the website that he founded and co-edits, www.democracyinafrica.org. Most recently, Professor Cheeseman was part of the team that launched the Resistance Bureau, a new webinar and discussion space that brings together speakers from across Africa to discuss how democracy and freedom can best be strengthened and defended. Check out https://www.theresistancebureau.com/ for more details and past episodes.

Postgraduate supervision

Professor Cheeseman is interested in supervising doctoral research on elections, democracy, political parties, social media, populism, corruption, taxation and the social contract, sub-Saharan Africa.

Research

Professor Cheeseman mainly works on democracy, elections and development and has conducted in-country research in a range of African states including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

His recent books have looked at the moral economy of elections in Africa, how to rig an election, and the foundations of authoritarian rule - paying particular attention to the role of ideas.

Previous books focussed on the importance of political institutions in processes of democratization and presidential coalition formation in nine countries in Latin America, post-communist Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

A political scientist by training, Professor Cheeseman also works on a number of topics within Development Studies, including decentralization, taxation, foreign aid, the formation of social contracts, and gender equality/women's political representation.

In the academic year 2021/2022 Professor Cheeseman will be on leave after being awarded a British Academy Fellowship to research the history and impact of African political thought. 

 

 

 

Other activities

  • Editor in Chief, Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, Oxford University Press (2016-).
  • Editor in Chief, Oxford Dictionary of African Politics, Oxford University Press (2016-).
  • Advisor and Consultant, African Progress Panel (2011-).
  • Advisory Board Member, UNESCO Chair on Communication Research and Africa (2012-).
  • Editorial Board Member, Zambia Social Science Journal (2012-).
  • Joint Editor, African Affairs, The Journal of the Royal African Society (2012-).
  • Executive Committee Member, Oxford-Princeton Global Leaders Fellowship scheme (2011-).
  • Research Associate, Centre for the Study of African Economics, University of Oxford (2008-).
  • Editorial Board Member and Book Reviews Editor, Journal of Modern African Studies (2010-2012).

Publications

Highlight publications

Cheeseman, N & Klaas, B 2018, How to Rig An Election. Yale University Press. <https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300204438/how-rig-election>

Cheeseman, N, Lynch, G & Willis, J 2021, The moral economy of elections in Africa: Democracy, voting and virtue. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108265126

Cheeseman, N & Fisher, J 2019, Authoritarian Africa: Repression, Resistance, and the Power of Ideas. Oxford University Press.

Cheeseman, N 2018, Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics. Oxford University Press.

Cheeseman, N, Lynch, G & Kanyinga, K 2020, The Oxford handbook of Kenyan politics. Oxford Handbooks, Oxford University Press.

Recent publications

Book

Mcloughlin, C (ed.), Ali, SAM (ed.), Xie, K, Cheeseman, N (ed.) & Hudson, D (ed.) 2023, The Politics of Development: Institutions, Incentives, and Ideas. SAGE Publications, London.

Article

Cheeseman, N 2024, 'Blondel’s African Presidential Republics: proof presidentialism can perform even in the most challenging contexts?', European Political Science. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41304-023-00466-1

Cheeseman, N, Swedlund, HJ & O'Brien-Udry, C 2024, 'Foreign aid withdrawals and suspensions: Why, when and are they effective?', World Development, vol. 178, 106571. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2024.106571

Cheeseman, N, Lynch, G, Willis, J & Kanyinga, K 2024, 'Has Kenya Democratized? Institutional strengthening and contingency in the 2022 general elections', Journal of Eastern African Studies.

Cheeseman, N & Kamencu, M 2024, 'The Battle for Central: Ethnicity, urbanization and citizenship in Kenya’s 2022 general elections', Journal of Eastern African Studies.

Cheeseman, N & Dodsworth, S 2023, 'Defending Civic Space: When are Campaigns against Repressive Laws Successful?', Journal of Development Studies, pp. 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2022.2162882

Cheeseman, N 2022, '(Mis)understanding urban Africa: toward a research agenda on the political impact of urbanization', African Studies Review. https://doi.org/10.1017/asr.2022.83

Gordon, R, Cheeseman, N, Rockowitz, S, Stevens, LM & Flowe, HD 2022, 'Government responses to gender-based violence during COVID-19', Frontiers in Global Women's Health, vol. 3, 857345. https://doi.org/10.3389/fgwh.2022.857345

Cheeseman, N & Peiffer, C 2022, 'Why efforts to fight corruption can undermine the social contract: lessons from a survey experiment in Nigeria', Governance. https://doi.org/10.1111/gove.12720

Sanches, E, Cheeseman, N, Veenendaal, WP & Corbett, J 2021, 'African exceptions: democratic development in small island states', Journal of International Relations and Development. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41268-021-00223-1

Cheeseman, N & Sishuwa, S 2021, 'African studies keyword: democracy', African Studies Review, vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 704-732. https://doi.org/10.1017/asr.2021.43

Cheeseman, N, Matfess, H & Amani, A 2021, 'Tanzania: the roots of repression', Journal of Democracy, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 77-89. https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.2021.0020

Cheeseman, N & Peiffer, C 2021, 'The curse of good intentions: why anticorruption messaging can encourage bribery', American Political Science Review. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055421001398

Willis, J, Cheeseman, N & Lynch, G 2021, 'The history of elections in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda: what we can learn from these “national exercises”', Journal of African Elections, vol. 20, no. 2, v20i2a1. <https://www.eisa.org/jae20-2.php>

Lynch, G, Cheeseman, N & Willis, J 2019, 'From peace campaigns to peaceocracy: elections, order and authority in Africa', African Affairs. https://doi.org/10.1093/afraf/adz019

View all publications in research portal

Expertise

Professor Cheeseman is happy to field media interviews on the following topics:

  • Elections in Africa
  • Election violence
  • Democratisation
  • Kenyan politics
  • Zimbabwean politics
  • Ugandan politics
  • Nigerian politics
  • Zambian politics
  • Populism
  • Political office term limits and political crises
  • Political parties
  • Taxation

Media experience

Professor Cheeseman's analysis has appeared in the Economist, Le Monde, Financial Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, Wall St Journal, New York Times, BBC, Sky News, Radio France International, Guardian, New Yorker, Vice, the Mail & Guardian and the Daily Nation. In total, his columns and articles have been read over a million times. Many of his interviews and insights can be found on the website that he founded and co-edits, www.democracyinafrica.org

Audio and video

Short | How To Rig An Election | Nick Cheeseman
Research into Fake News in collaboration with WhatsApp

Expertise

Foreign, security and development policy

Professor Nic Cheeseman has advised or presented his work to governments and agencies around the world, including the Department for International Development and Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the UK government, the Lagos State Government (Nigeria), the Committee on Revenue Allocation (Kenya), the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) of the Swedish Government, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UN Habitat, the European External Action Service and Kofi Annan's Africa Progress Panel.

His areas of expertise include elections, presidential politics, democracy, development, and international democracy support.

Policy experience