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Jessica Steinberg

Assistant Professor
Adjunct Professor of Political Science
Faculty Affiliate, Ostrum Workshop
GISB 1004, (812) 856-7326

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Political Science, University of Michigan, 2014
  • M.A., Political Science, University of Michigan, 2011
  • B.A., Stanford University, 2006

Region(S) of Interest

  • Africa
  • India
  • regions of limited state presence

Research Topics

  • politics of natural resources
  • non-state goods provision
  • regions of limited state presence
  • violent conflict
  • technologies of repression

Research Summary

My research explores the way state behavior varies across space, within sovereign borders.  Specifically, my research focuses on the following overlapping questions: How do states broadcast power over space? How does political, economic, and environmental geography shape subnational political and economic outcomes? When do non-state entities assume the functions of extraction, distribution, and security that are commonly the purview of the sovereign state, and what are the incentives of the state in allowing these actors to do so?  I explore these questions by looking at regions of natural resource extraction, violent conflict, and non-state goods provision.  I rely on formal modeling, comparative case study, and econometric analysis of geospatial data to explore these questions.

In my book, “Mines, Communities, and States: The Local Politics of Natural Resource Extraction in Africa” (Cambridge University Press, 2019), I explore why in some regions of natural resource extraction, firms provide goods and services such as schools, roads, to local communities and the environmental consequences of extraction are mitigated. However, in other regions, communities mobilize against resource extraction, leading to government regulatory or repressive intervention. I focus on these outcomes in Africa, where natural resource extraction is a particularly important source of revenue for states with otherwise limited capacity. 

My next book length project explores the use of common pool resources (forestry in particular) in conflict and post conflict contexts to explore the effect of common pool resource management participation on local stability.  Other areas of interest include technologies of repression, conflict events reporting, and private investment in unstable regions.

Representative Publications

  • Steinberg, J. (2019). Mines, Communities, and States: The Local Politics of Natural Resource Extraction in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Steinberg, J. (2018). ‘Strong’ states and strategic governance: A model of territorial variation in state presence. Journal of Theoretical Politics30(2), 224–245. 
  • Steinberg, J. (2018) Protecting the capital? On African geographies of protest escalation and repression. Political Geography, Volume 62, 12-22.

External Links