Ethnicity and Democratic Governance

Ethnicity and Democratic Governance

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Berman.jpgBruce Berman

EDG Director and Principal Investigator
Professor Emeritus
Department of Political Studies
Queen's University | E-mail

Research Statement (68 kB)

Bruce Berman is professor emeritus of political studies at Queen's University. A native of New York City, he was educated at Dartmouth College (B.A., International Relations), the London School of Economics (M.A., Social Anthropology) and Yale University (M.Phil., Ph.D., Political Science).

He has taught at Queen's since 1971 and has held visiting appointments at the University of Nairobi, the University of Sussex, the University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge, the University of Cape Town, Australian National University and the University of Melbourne. He has been a recurrent visiting scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge most years since 1989.

He has served as the president of the Canadian Association of African Studies in 1990-91 and of the African Studies Association in the US in 2004-05. He is currently past-president of the ASA and its representative on the American Council of Learned Societies.

Berman is the author, co-author and co-editor of six books and more than forty published papers. His early work focused on the political economy of the colonial state in Africa and its impact on African societies, including Control and Crisis in Colonial Kenya: the Dialectic of Domination (James Currey/Ohio University Press, 1990), which won the Joel Gregory Prize from the Canadian Association of African Studies in 1991; and, with John Lonsdale, Unhappy Valley: Conflict in Kenya and Africa (James Currey/Ohio University Press, 1992), which received the Trevor Reese Memorial Prize in Imperial and Commonwealth History in 1995. Since the early 1990s his work has focused increasingly on the development of modern African ethnicities and their political expression. His recent publications include "Ethnicity, Patronage and the African State: the politics of uncivil nationalism, " African Affairs, 1998; Critical Perspectives on Politics and Socio-Economic Development in Ghana, edited with Wisdom Tettey and Korbla Puplampu (Brill, 2003), Ethnicity and Democracy in Africa edited with Dickson Eyoh and Will Kymlicka (James Currey, Ohio University Press, 2004) and "A Palimpsest of Contradictions: the Study of Politics, Ethnicity and the State in Africa," International Journal of African Historical Studies, 2004. His presidential address to the African Studies Association, "The Ordeal of Modernity in an Age of Terror," will be published in African Studies Review in early 2006. He has also published on the relationship of technology and development, particularly information technology, in journals such as Science as Culture,World Futures, Artificial Intelligence and Society, and Public Administration and Development. He and John Lonsdale are currently finishing The House of Custom: Jomo Kenyatta, Louis Leakey and the Kikuyu.

An enthusiastic organizer of conferences, he has been the principal organizer of 16 meetings since 1986 ranging in size from 20 to more than 1600 participants.

Berman lives in Kingston, Ontario with his wife Elaine, who is the executive officer of the Queen's University Faculty Association. They have two grown children.


  • Political economy of the colonial state in Africa and its impact on African societies
  • Development of modern African ethnicities and their political expression
  • Ethnicity and globalization
  • Kenya
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria

2007governingdiversity.jpgGoverning Diversity: Democratic Solutions in Multicultural Societies(Montréal: Rights and Democracy, 2007)

Edited by Razmik Panossian, Bruce Berman and Anne Linscott

Gouvernance et diversité: Des solutions démocratiques pour des sociétés multiculturelles (Montréal: Droits et Démocratie, 2007)

Sous la direction de Razmik Panossian, Bruce Berman et Anne Linscott