Jóhanna Birnir

Jóhanna Birnir

Professor of Government and Politics & Director, Global Learning

University of Maryland, College Park


Jóhanna Kristín Birnir is Professor in the Department of Government and Politics and the Director of GVPT Global Learning. She studies the effect of identity on contentious political outcomes and has done extensive fieldwork in the Andes, Southeast Europe and Indonesia. Jóhanna´s first book Ethnicity and Electoral Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2009) examines the relationship between political access and minority strategic choice of peaceful electoral participation, protest, or violence against the state. Her current book project (under contract with Cambridge University Press and supported by the Global Religion Research Initiative - University of Notre Dame) examines the relationship between identity (ethnicity and religion) and minority peaceful and violent political mobilization. Jóhanna´s articles on identity and politics are published in numerous academic journals including the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Peace Research, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Party Politics, the Latin American Research Review, and the Journal of Global Security Studies. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, and the Folke Bernadotte Academy.


  • Comparative Politics
  • Identity Politics
  • Fieldwork


  • PhD in Political Science, 2001

    University of California, Los Angeles

  • MA in Political Science, 1993

    University of California, Los Angeles

  • BA in Latin American Studies, 1998

    University of California, Irvine

  • Matriculation Examination, 1989

    Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð, Reykjavík, Iceland







Professor and Director of Global Learning

Department of Government and Politics

Aug 2007 – Present University of Mayland, College Park

Prior Positions:

  • Associate Professor (2010-2018)
  • Research Director, Center for International Development and Conflict Management (2010-2018)
  • Assistant Professor (2007-2009)

Postdoctoral Fellow

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism

Aug 2007 – May 2008 University of Mayland, College Park

Postdoctoral Fellow

The National Academies Research Council

Aug 2006 – May 2007 University of Mayland, College Park

Assistant Professor

Department of Political Science

Aug 2001 – May 2007 State University of New York at Buffalo

Book Project

Alternatives in Mobilization: Religion, Ethnicity and Conflict

with Nil Satana

Featured Publications

For a comprehensive list, please see my CV.

Disunity in Diversity: Party System Fragmentation and the Dynamic Effect of Ethnic Heterogeneity on Latin American Legislatures

with Donna Lee Van Cott

Ethnicity and Electoral Politics (Book)

Public Venture Capital and Party Institutionalization


Past 5 Years Only

Report: Where a Founder Is From Affects How They Structure Their Company

with David Waguespack ($4,000)

Gender and Violence Across the World: Indonesia

with David Waguespack ($27,000)

Interdisciplinary Laboratory in Computational Social Science

with Ernesto Calvo and David Waguespack ($16,000)

Global Religion Research Initiative Book Leave Award


Cultural Competence Course Development Award


The Causes and Consequences of Gender Roles Across Cultures and Within a Person



  • 301 405 7206
  • 3117B Chincoteague Hall, College Park, MD 20742
  • Enter Chincoteague Hall and take the stairs to Office 3117B on Floor 3
  • Office hours by appointment.
  • Find me on Twitter