Graduate Program

Amanda Pinkston

Amanda Pinkston

Graduate Student

I am a Ph.D. candidate, with interests in African politics, political economy, democracy, parties and party systems, state building and processes of liberalization (political and economic).

My dissertation looks at the effects of poverty on democratic politics in sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on the ways in which poverty influences voter behavior, campaign finance, political spending, and the composition of the political elite. Focusing on the cases of Ghana and Benin, I demonstrate that a weak private sector leads to a political class dominated by government insiders - i.e., people with state ties prior to their electoral career, such as un-elected ministers, government program directors, state contractors and the close family members of current and former presidents - despite elections that are free and fair.

I received a B.A. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007.  Shortly afterwards, I joined the Peace Corps; I worked in the Small Enterprise Program in Togo.  I have since made many trips back to West Africa to conduct field research in Ghana and Benin.

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Democracy and Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa, Fall 2015


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