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William Reno

Department Chair; Professor

B.A.: Haverford College, 1984; M.A.: University of Chicago, 1985; Ph.D.: University of Wisconsin, 1992
Curriculum Vitae


Research Interest(s): Politics of Conflict, Behavior and Organization of Non-State Armed Groups, Politics of International intervention

Program Area(s): International Relations; Comparative Politics

Regional Specialization(s): Middle East; Asia; Africa

Subfield Specialties: Comparative Historical Analysis; Conflict Studies

Joint Appointment

Program of African Studies


Professor Reno's research, teaching, service and community engagements focus on understanding the causes of political violence, comparisons of political violence in Africa with political violence elsewhere, the organization and behavior of insurgent groups, and the politics of authoritarian regimes. He collects data through field research, and consultation of primary documents, and critical readings of secondary sources. Reno's analytical method includes the comparison of case studies, chosen to maximize controls of particular variables in efforts to identify strong causal links.  Blending an observational approach from the traditions of area studies with qualitative analytical models in the field of Comparative Politics, he participates in a conversation with anthropology and sociology about how to conduct ethical and analytically rewarding research in politically unstable environments.  Reno also participates in broad analytical debates about the nature of corruption and coercion and their roles in the development of political institutions and the changing nature of contemporary insurgencies.


  • Corruption and State Politics in Sierra Leone, Cambridge University Press, 1995
  • Warlord Politics and African States, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998
  • Warfare in Independent Africa, Cambridge University Press, 2011

Select Publications

  • “In Harm’s Way: African Counterinsurgency and Patronage Politics,” Civil Wars 16:2 (2014), 125-46. [with Chris Day]
  • “The International Factor in African Warfare,” in John Harbeson & Donald Rothchild, eds., Africa in World Politics: Engaging a Changing Global Order, [5th edition] (Boulder: Westview Press, 2013), 150-72.
  • Crime versus War,” in Hew Strachan & Sibylle Scheipers, eds., The Changing Character of War, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, paper 2013), 220-37.
  • “Transforming West African Militia networks for Postwar recovery,” Comparative Social Research, 27 (2010), 127-49.
  • “Understanding Criminality in West African Conflicts,” International Peacekeeping, 16:1 (Feb 2009), 47-61.  Reprinted in James Cockayne & Ada Lupal, Peace Operations and Organized Crime: Enemies or Allies? (London & New York: Routledge, 2011), 68-83.

Courses taught

Undergraduate level

  • Poli Sci 250 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • Poli Sci 259 African Politics
  • Poli Sci 359 Issues in African Politics
  • Poli Sci 376 Internal Wars and the State

Graduate level

  • Poli Sci 453 African Politics
  • Poli Sci 490 War and Political Development
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