King Center on Global Development
James T. Watkins IV and Elise V. Watkins Professor of Political Science
Department of Political Science
David D. Laitin is the James T. Watkins IV and Elise V. Watkins Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. He received his BA from Swarthmore College before serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Somalia and Grenada. He received his PhD in political science from UC Berkeley.
Professor Laitin taught at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Chicago before coming to Stanford. Over the course of his career, he has conducted field research in Somalia, Nigeria, Spain, Estonia, and France, all the time focusing on how cultural phenomena such as language and religion link nation to state. His books include Politics, Language and Thought: The Somali Experience; Hegemony and Culture: Politics and Religious Change among the Yoruba; Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa; Identity in Formation: The Russian-Speaking Populations in the Near Abroad; and Nations, States and Violence. Over the past decade, he has published several papers on ethnicity, ethnic cooperation, the sources of civil war, and the policies that settle civil wars.
Laitin has been a recipient of fellowships from the Howard Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.