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Dr. Jessica Piombo

Jessica PiomboStatus
Associate Professor


Research Interests
Transitional and interim governance; Stabilization and reconstruction (post- and pre-conflict); Civil-military issues in the provision of humanitarian and civic assistance; Civil war and conflict management in Africa; Terrorism in Africa; Constitutional and electoral engineering; Democracy and democratization; Electoral politics and political mobilization; Ethnic conflict and its management.

Jessica Piombo is an Associate Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), where she teaches courses on African politics, U.S. Foreign Policy, comparative politics, and ethnic politics and conflicts. Piombo has been a visiting scholar at the Centre for Social Science Research and the African Studies Centre of the University of Cape Town, and the Center for African Studies at Stanford University. Her teaching and research specializes on political transitions, transitional regimes and post-conflict governance; institutional ways to channel and shape political identities; mechanisms to manage ethnic conflict; terrorism and countering terrorism in Africa; and the U.S. military’s role in reconstruction and stabilization.  Piombo has lectured extensively within the Department of Defense and U.S. government civilian communities about various security issues in Africa, particularly focusing on civil-military interactions in humanitarian and civic assistance programs, and on terrorism and counter-terrorism in Africa.

She joined NPS in 2003 after completing her Ph.D. at the Department of Political Science of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Piombo is the author of Institutions, Ethnicity and Political Mobilization in South Africa (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), editor of Interim Governments: Institutional Bridges to Peace and Democracy? (with Karen Guttieri, USIP Press, 2007) and editor of Electoral Politics in South Africa: Assessing the First Democratic Decade (with Lia Nijzink, Palgrave MacMillan, 2005). She has authored numerous articles, reports and book chapters on security, counter-terrorism and democratization in Africa. Piombo has conducted extensive research in South Africa, has monitored elections in South Africa and Nigeria (as part of the delegation of the International Republican Institute for the April 2007 elections), and conducted research in Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.



Institutions, Ethnicity and Political Mobilization in South Africa, New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.


Interim Governments: Institutional Bridges to Peace and Democracy? edited with Karen Guttieri, USIP Press, Summer 2007.


Electoral Politics in South Africa: Assessing the First Democratic Decade, edited with Lia Nijzink, Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.

Refereed Journal Articles


“Political Institutions, Social Demographics and the Decline of Ethnic Mobilization in South Africa, 1994 – 1999, Party Politics 11, no. 4 (July 2005): 447-470.


“Opposition Parties and the Voters In South Africa’s 1999 Election,” with Robert Mattes, Democratization 38, no. 3 (Autumn 2001): 101-128.

Journal Special Issue


Africa’s Security Challenges and Rising Strategic Significance, Special Issue ofStrategic Insights, Volume VI, Issue 1 (January 2007).


Interim Governments: Institutional Bridges to Peace and Democracy? Special Issue of Strategic Insights, Volume V, Issue 1 (January 2006). Edited with Karen Guttieri.

Book Chapters


“South Africa’s Contribution to Understanding Negotiated Pathways to Peace,” in Ending Intra-state Conflict: from Negotiation to Implementation, ed. Maria Rasmussen. (Manuscript in progress.)


“Beyond Protecting the Land and the Sea: The Role of the U.S. Navy in Reconstruction,” with Michael Malley in Stability from the Sea: Naval Roles in Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Operations, ed. James J. Wirtz and Jeffrey A. Larsen, New Jersey: Routledge Press, 2009.


“Terrorist Financing and Government Response in East Africa,” in Terrorism Financing and State Response in Comparative Perspective, eds. Harold Trinkunas and Jeanne Giraldo, Stanford University Press, 2007.


“The Results of Election 2004: Looking Back, Stepping Forward,” in Electoral Politics in South Africa: Assessing the First Democratic Decade, eds. Jessica Piombo and Lia Nijzink, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.


“The Institutions of Democracy: Parliament and the Electoral System,” (with Lia Nijzink) in Electoral Politics in South Africa: Assessing the First Democratic Decade eds. Jessica Piombo and  Lia Nijzink, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.


“The Smaller Parties,” in Election ’99: From Mandela to Mbeki, ed. Andrew Reynolds, St. Martins Press, 1999.

Working Papers and Other Publications


“Military Provision of Humanitarian and Civic Assistance: A Day in the Life of a Civil Affairs Team in the Horn of Africa.” Center for Complex Operations Case Study Series, National Defense University Press, May 2010.


African Security Challenges: Now and Over the Horizon Workshop Report, with Jennifer Perry and Jennifer Borchard, Defense Threat Reduction Agency Advanced Systems and Concepts Office, Report Number ASCO 2009-01 (January 2009).


Ungoverned Spaces and Weapons of Mass Destruction in Africa: Exploring the Potential for Terrorist Exploitation, Defense Threat Reduction Agency Advanced Systems and Concepts Office, Report Number ASCO 2008-016 (October 2008).

Dr. Piombo's complete CV is available here.

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