Close menu Resources for... William & Mary
W&M menu close William & Mary
Directory Page Title

Philip Roessler

Professor, Government

Office: Chancellors 334, 757-221-3045
Links: [[proessler, Email]] and {{, Webpage}}
Office Hours: Friday, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm or by appointment.
Research Interests: African Politics; Digital Technology; Conflict; Long-run Development


Professor Roessler is the Margaret Hamilton Associate Professor of Government at William & Mary, where he also serves as the Associate Chair of the Government Department, Co-Director of the Digital Inclusion and Governance Lab, and the Director of the Africa Research Center at W&M's Global Research Institute (GRI). He received his B.A. from Indiana University and his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. He has held fellowships at Stanford University and Oxford University. 

Professor Roessler's research and teaching focus on the political economy of development, comparative politics, and African politics, with wide-ranging interests on the following: the causes of civil war; the origins and consequences of spatial inequality; ethnic politics; competing foreign aid regimes; and, increasingly, the effects of the digital technology revolution. The latter research program, housed at W&M's DIG Lab, leverages field experiments in Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Pakistan, and beyond to address big questions on the impact of digital tech on development from effective strategies to reduce the smartphone gender gap to the effects of interoperable payment systems.

His research has been funded by Innovations for Poverty Action; the National Science Foundation; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the British Academy; the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation; the Institute of International Education; the United States Agency for International Development; the United States Department of Agriculture; and the British Academy; and been published in the American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, Journal of Politics, International Organization, Nature, World Politics, and other outlets.

Roessler has also written two books: Ethnic Politics and State Power in Africa: The Logic of the Coup-Civil War Trap (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and Why Comrades Go To War: Liberation Politics and the Outbreak of Africa's Deadliest Conflict (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2016), co-authored with Harry Verhoeven. His next book, in collaboration with Yannick Pengl, is on the effects of the cash crop revolution and colonialism on the making of modern Africa.

At W&M, Professor Roessler teaches courses on African politics, comparative politics, comparative political development, and mixed and experimental methods. He also mentors and collaborates with students through the Africa Research Center and the Digital Inclusion and Governance Lab. These initiatives have supported student research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Tanzania, and Uganda.  



Recent Papers and Publications

Pengl, Yannick I., Philip Roessler, and Valeria Rueda. "Cash Crops, Print Technologies, and the Politicization of Ethnicity in Africa." American Political Science Review, FirstView.

Blair, Robert A., Robert Marty, and Philip Roessler. "Foreign Aid and Soft Power: Great Power Competition in Africa in the Early Twenty-first Century." British Journal of Political Science, FirstView.

Blair, Robert A., and Philip Roessler. "The Effects of Chinese Aid on State Legitimacy in Africa: Cross-National and Sub-National Evidence from Surveys, Survey Experiments, and Behavioral Games," World Politics, 73, no. 2 (2021). 

Roessler, Philip, Peter P. Carroll, Flora Myamba, Cornel Jahari, Blandina Kilama, and Daniel Nielson. 2021. "The Economic Impact of Mobile Phone Ownership: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Tanzania.” CSAE Working Paper. WPS/2021-5.

Roessler, Philip, Yannick I. Pengl, Kyle Titlow, Robert Marty and Nicolas van de Walle. 2020. “The Cash Crop Revolution, Colonialism and Legacies of Spatial Inequality: Evidence from Africa.” CSAE Working Paper. WPS/2020-12


COLL 150: Africa Rising?

GOVT 203: Intro. to Comparative Politics

GOVT 337: Politics of Africa

GOVT 391: Mixed Methods for the Study of Conflict and Development

GOVT 403: Order, Violence, Development, and Democracy