ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja Nigeria Oct. 2016

ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja Nigeria Oct. 2016


My research examines how regional organizations shape governance in Africa, particularly through networking by practitioners and the inclusiveness of local civil society actors. I am interested in how regional organizations within Africa navigate the rapidly changing material and political conditions on the continent in an effort to harmonize and converge on important governance areas, such as peace and security and public health. I combine elements of global governance, constructivist international relations theory, historical institutionalism, and comparative regionalism to identify the mechanisms that drive regional convergence beyond conventional indicators of integration, such as economics, trade, and political liberalization. 

Book: Convergence and Agency in West Africa: Region-Building in ECOWAS (Routledge; Forthcoming 2019)


My book, Convergence and Agency in West Africa, examines the role of ECOWAS in West Africa beyond functional analyses and explanations of region building in West Africa. Using the concept of Regional Convergence, defined as the process in which regional political and social practices are harmonized and become more constant over time, I examine how ECOWAS from its inception to its current iteration develops a sense of identity and community through the engagement in region-building. Using data from interviews with civil society diaspora groups and ECOWAS bureaucrats in throughout West Africa, I examine the ways the ECOWAS Commission helps network West Africa through its engagement with civil society and regional stakeholders in Health, Peace and Security, and Finance, beyond legalistic frameworks of integration. I find that regional convergence is strongest where ECOWAS engages in deep forms of institutionalization, which I define as the process by which modes of behavior are made more dependable and durable.

I argue the drivers of region-building in ECOWAS are its independent practitioners, which I call “Ecocrats” and civil society actors, not regime leaders. Specifically, I focus on the importance of Ecocrats and the creation of an autonomous space and a shift in ideas and West African identity. Convergence and Agency highlights common processes by which regional actors come to their normative commitments about ECOWAS and also how those processes and Ecocrats contribute to ECOWAS’ distinctive institutional commitments/institutional culture. This, I argue is a significant and important dimension of the convergence process. 

Book Chapters:

“An Obama Effect? African American Voting Behavior and the Political Symbolism of a Black President” with David C. Wilson, Samantha S. Kelley, Christian Soler, and Sahar Salehi in Race still Matters: African American Lived Experiences in the Twenty-First Century. SUNY Press Edited by Yuya Kiuchi- November 2016

Media Publications

“Ebola is Back. Is Africa Ready?” (w/ Amy S. Patterson) The Monkey Cage at The Washington Post September 27, 2018

In progress:

“Peace and Security in the AU and ECOWAS: Cooperation as Cumulative Process” (Manuscript revise and resubmit) 

“Non-Interference in ASEAN and ECOWAS: Explaining Divergent Institutional Paths” with Alice D. Ba 

“People-Centrism in Regional Communities: Practice and Norm Adoption in ASEAN and ECOWAS” with Aarie Glas (Manuscript under review) 

“Variations in Regional Health Surveillance: Evidence from ECOWAS, EAC, and SADC” 

“Security and Health Service Provision Delivery and Civil Society Restrictions in West Africa” 

“Women’s political representation in Post-Military Regimes in West Africa” with Gretchen Bauer 

“Regional Organizations and the Politics of Scrutiny in Human Rights Monitoring: Evidence from Structural Topic Models of U.S. State Department Human Rights Reports” with Benjamin Bagozzi