Séverine Autesserre

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Séverine Autesserre
Born (1976-12-06) 6 December 1976 (age 46)
Paris, France
Occupation(s)Researcher and professor
TitleProfessor and Chair of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University
Academic background
EducationYale University (post-doctorate), New York University (Ph.D), Columbia University (master's degree), Sciences Po (master's degree), Sorbonne University (B.A.)
Academic work
Notable worksPeaceland (2014),[1] The Trouble with the Congo (2010)[2] and The Frontlines of Peace (2021)[3]

Séverine Autesserre (born December 6, 1976) is a French-American author and researcher.[4] She writes about war and peace, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and African politics. Autesserre is a professor and Chair of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University (New York, US), where she specializes in international relations and African studies. She previously worked for international humanitarian and development agencies.


Autesserre obtained her B.A. in political science from Sorbonne University in 1997. She earned her master's degree in international relations and political science from Sciences Po and Columbia University. In 2006, she completed her Ph.D. in political science from New York University and undertook post-doctorate studies at Yale University in 2007.[5][6][7]


Autesserre's early research culminated in her first book, The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding published in 2010.[2] The book explains why international efforts to end civil wars often fail.[8] Drawing on interviews and field research, Autesserre presents a case study of the international intervention during the Democratic Republic of Congo's unsuccessful transition from war to peace and democracy (2003–06) where she argues that local rivalries over land, resources, and political power motivated widespread violence.[9] However, an international peacebuilding culture shaped the intervention strategy in a way that precluded action on local conflicts, ultimately dooming the international efforts.[10]

Autessere's second book, Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention, was published in 2014[1] and translated in Spanish in 2018.[11] The book suggests an explanation for why international peace interventions so often fail to reach their full potential.[12] She demonstrates that everyday elements – such as expatriates’ social habits and common approaches to understanding their areas of operation – strongly influence peacebuilding effectiveness.[13] Peaceland proposes ways to better help host populations build sustainable peace.[14]

Autesserre's third book, The Frontlines of Peace: An Insider's Guide to Changing the World,[15] was released by Oxford University Press in 2021[16] and translated in French in 2023.[17] Autesserre examines strategies that help build peace during and after mass violence.[18][16] She highlights "ordinary yet extraordinary individuals and communities" that have decreased or ended violence in various parts of the world.[19][16][20]

Autesserre has taught at New York University and Yale University. Since 2007,[21] she teaches at Columbia University's Barnard College,[22] School of International and Public Affairs,[23] and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She teaches classes on African politics, international relations, and war and peace, and she chairs the Barnard Political Science Department.[24][25] In 2021, Autesserre received Barnard College's Emily Gregory Award, a student-nominated award for excellence in teaching.[26]

According to Google Scholar, Autesserre's work has been cited in more than 4,600 scholarly texts.[27] She has been called "an authoritative voice" on international humanitarian interventions.[28] Her publications on peacebuilding have helped shape intervention strategies for several United Nations departments,[29][30] philanthropists,[31] activists,[32] and non-governmental organizations.[20][33] She has testified before the U.S. Congress[34] and the United Nations Security Council,[35] and her research has been quoted in debates at the U.S. House of Representatives[36] and the Canadian Parliament.[37] Her publications have helped put local conflict resolution on the agenda of policy-makers and practitioners working in Congo.[38][39] Autesserre is considered "one of the foremost thinkers on international peace-building" in the decade since 2010 by many of her colleagues,[40] and in the 2020s the International Studies Association and the French government praised her work for “revolutioni[zing] the study and practice of peacebuilding, and of security studies more broadly.”[41][42]

Awards and honors[edit]

Autesserre's first paper won the 2006 Best Graduate Student Paper award from the African Studies Association,[43] and her article "Dangerous Tales" won the 2012 Best Article award from the African Politics Conference Group.[44] The same year, The Trouble with the Congo won the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.[45] The book also won the 2011 Chadwick Alger Prize awarded by the International Studies Association.[46] It was the topic of a TED talk with more than 810,000 views.[47]

Autesserre's work Peaceland won the 2016 Best Book of the Year Award[48] and the 2015 Yale H. Ferguson Award[49] from the International Studies Association, as well as honorable mentions for the 2014 African Argument Book of the Year,[50] the 2015 Chadwick Alger Prize from the International Studies Association,[51] and the 2015 Conflict Research Society Book of the Year.[52]

In April 2021, Autesserre presented The Frontlines of Peace to the United Nations Security Council.[53] Her book has received positive reviews from The Washington Post,[54] The New York Times,[55] and Le Soir,[56] as well as a recommendation from Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times who listed the book as part of his "Summer Books of 2021."[57] It is one of the finalists for the 2022 best book prize from the Conflict Research Society.[58] Autesserre shared an anecdote from The Frontlines of Peace at House of SpeakEasy's Seriously Entertaining in 2021.[59]

In 2021, Autesserre was named Knight of the Order of Academic Palms by the French government.[60][61] That same year, she was awarded the Victor Sidel and Barry Levy Award for Peace from the American Public Health Association in recognition of her contributions to preventing war and promoting international peace.[62] Her research has won her an Emerging Scholar Award from the International Studies Association (2021),[63] a Special Prize of the Jury from the French Red Cross Fund (2017), an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship (2016),[64][65] a 2016 Foreign Policy Interrupted fellowship, a research award from the United States Institute of Peace,[66] two Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation research grants (2010 and 2011), two Presidential Research Awards from Barnard College (2010 and 2021), two Mellon Fellowships in Security and Humanitarian Action (2004–06), and a Fulbright Fellowship (1999–2000).[67]

Autesserre is one of the seven main characters in Timothy Pachirat's book Among Wolves.[68]


  1. ^ a b Autesserre, Severine (2014). Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ a b Autesserre, Severine (2010). The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ Autesserre, Séverine (2021). The Frontlines of Peace. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-753035-1.
  4. ^ "Analysis of what went wrong in Congo wins Grawemeyer Award". Grawemeyer Award. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Severine Autesserre – Barnard Faculty Profile". Barnard College – Columbia University. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  6. ^ Autesserre, Severine. "Severine Autesserre – CV" (PDF). Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  7. ^ French Success Story - Séverine Autesserre, retrieved 1 June 2023
  8. ^ Clark, John F. (2011). "Book review: The Trouble with the Congo". Perspectives on Politics. 9 (4): 202–203. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  9. ^ Popiden, Sandra (2013). "Local dimensions of war and peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo". International Studies Review. 15 (2): 302–306. doi:10.1111/misr.12039.
  10. ^ Nordås, Ragnhild (November 2012). "Book Notes: The Trouble With the Congo". Journal of Peace Research. 49 (6): 873–881. doi:10.1177/0022343312465518. S2CID 220786215.
  11. ^ "Peaceland. La resolución de conflictos y políticas cotidianas en las intervenciones internacionales". ICIP (in European Spanish). Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  12. ^ Peake, Gordon (2016). "If This Is the Way the World Works ...". International Peacekeeping. 23 (1): 196–210. doi:10.1080/13533312.2015.1126519. S2CID 147453067.
  13. ^ H-Diplo (2016). "Roundtable 9-5 on Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention". H-Diplo ISSF Roundtable. XI (5). Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  14. ^ Tétreault, M. (2015). "Peaceland: Conflict resolution and the everyday politics of international intervention". Choice. 52 (5): 887–888. doi:10.5860/choice.186665. ProQuest 1647791675.
  15. ^ "The Frontlines of Peace: An Insider's Guide to Changing the World".
  16. ^ a b c Autesserre, Severine (2021). The Frontlines of Peace: An Insider's Guide to Changing the World. Oxford University Press.
  17. ^ "Sur les fronts de la paix, Guide de l'activiste pour un monde nouveau (fiche technique)". www.editions-msh.fr (in French). Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  18. ^ "Los frentes de la paz". Política Exterior (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  19. ^ Abrahamian, Atossa Araxia (2 March 2021). "How to Help Endangered and Impoverished Peoples". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  20. ^ a b Full Frame: Peacekeepers with Severine Autesserre, retrieved 26 December 2021
  21. ^ "Séverine Autesserre". LinkedIn. Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  22. ^ "Severine Autesserre – Barnard Faculty Profile". Barnard College – Columbia University. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  23. ^ "Séverine Autesserre, SIPA faculty profile". SIPA website.
  24. ^ "Severine Autesserre – Teaching". Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  25. ^ "Faculty | Barnard Political Science". polisci.barnard.edu. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  26. ^ "Professor Séverine Autesserre To Be Named the 2021 Emily Gregory Award Winner". Barnard College. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  27. ^ "Séverine Autesserre".
  28. ^ Veit, Alex (15 June 2015). "Review of "The Trouble with the Congo" and "Peaceland"". European Journal of International Relations. 2 (1): 121–127.
  29. ^ Benner, Thorsten (1 November 2011). "Heart of Darkness". Survival. 53 (5): 169–178. doi:10.1080/00396338.2011.621642. ISSN 0039-6338. S2CID 219639176.
  30. ^ de Vries, Hugo (2015). Going around in circles: peacekeeping and stabilization in Congo. Clingendael institute – via http://www.clingendael.nl/sites/default/files/going_around_in_circles.pdf. {{cite book}}: External link in |via= (help)
  31. ^ "When It Comes to Promoting Peace, Where Can Funding Do the Most Good?". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  32. ^ Cohen, Noam (11 March 2012). "'Kony 2012' Video Illustrates the Power of Simplicity". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  33. ^ "Conflits mondiaux : «Les accords de paix entre élites n'ont jamais à eux seuls éteint la violence»". Libération (in French). Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  34. ^ "Subcommittee Hearing: Resolving the Political Crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – Committee on Foreign Affairs". Committee on Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  35. ^ "Séverine Autesserre Discusses Her New Book at the United Nations Security Council". www.siwps.org. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  36. ^ United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services (16 May 2013). "Memorandum – Subject: May 21, 2013, Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee Hearing on "The Unintended Consequences of Dodd-Frank's Conflict Minerals Provision"" (PDF). Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  37. ^ "Comités de la Chambre des communes – SDIR (40-3) – Témoignages – Numéro 033". www.parl.gc.ca. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  38. ^ Legatis, Rousbeh (20 September 2013). "Congo-Kinshasa: Q&A – Congolese Wrongly Branded As "Pathological"". Inter Press Service. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  39. ^ Lemarchand, René (1 November 2013). "Reflections on the Recent Historiography of Eastern Congo". The Journal of African History. 54 (3): 417–437. doi:10.1017/S002185371300073X. ISSN 0021-8537.
  40. ^ MacDougall, Clair (24 May 2021). "'Peace Inc.' Has Failed. This Expert Proposes a New Way to Peacemaking". PassBlue. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  41. ^ "France Honors Séverine Autesserre and Maurice Samuels – French Culture". Retrieved 3 September 2023.
  42. ^ Kessler, Mark (25 August 2020). "Séverine Auteserre Wins the Emerging Scholar Award from the ISA". Susanna Lea Associates. Retrieved 3 September 2023.
  43. ^ "Graduate Student Paper Prize Winners". African Studies Association. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  44. ^ "African Politics Conference Group – Past Awards". African Politics Conference group. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  45. ^ "Analysis of what Went Wrong in Congo Wins Grawemeyer Award". Grawemeyer Awards. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  46. ^ "Chadwick Alger Prize – Past Recipients". International Studies Association. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  47. ^ Autesserre, Severine (27 January 2015), La résolution de la violence généralisée par l'action locale., retrieved 1 June 2023
  48. ^ "ISA Annual Best Book Award". International Studies Association. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  49. ^ "Yale H. Ferguson Award – Past Recipients". International Studies Association.
  50. ^ African Arguments Editor (5 January 2015). "African Arguments Book of the Year". African Arguments. Retrieved 12 December 2016. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  51. ^ "Chadwick Alger Prize – Past Recipients". International Studies Association.
  52. ^ "The Conflict Research Society Book of the Year". CRS – Conflict Research Society. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  53. ^ @SeverineAR (12 April 2021). "Due to confidentiality rules…" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 2 June 2021. Retrieved 20 June 2023 – via Twitter.
  54. ^ Barma, Naazneen (20 August 2021). "This book explains when peacekeeping works — and when it doesn't". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  55. ^ Abrahamian, Atossa Araxia (2 March 2021). "How to Help Endangered and Impoverished Peoples". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  56. ^ Braeckman, Colette (2 August 2021). "RD Congo: pourquoi les faiseurs de paix ont échoué". Le Soir (in French). Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  57. ^ "Summer books of 2021: Politics". www.ft.com. 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  58. ^ "Book of the year". Conflict Research Society. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  59. ^ Seriously Entertaining: Séverine Autesserre on "Only Home We've Ever Known", retrieved 11 July 2023
  60. ^ "Séverine Autesserre Named Knight of the Order of Academic Palms (Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques) – SIWPS". www.siwps.org. Retrieved 29 May 2022.
  61. ^ "France Honors Séverine Autesserre and Maurice Samuels – French Culture". Retrieved 3 September 2023.
  62. ^ "APHA announces 2021 awards for excellence in public health". apha.org. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  63. ^ "Congratulations to Severine Autesserre for Winning the 2021 Emerging Scholar Award". Twitter.
  64. ^ "Announcing the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellows". Carnegie Corporation of New York. 19 April 2016.
  65. ^ "Meet Carnegie Fellow Severine Autesserre". Political Science Now. 5 August 2016.
  66. ^ "The Trouble with the Congo". United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  67. ^ "Interview with Séverine Autesserre". Foreign Policy Interrupted. 5 December 2016.
  68. ^ Timothy Pachirat, Among Wolves: Ethnography and the Immersive Study of Power. Routledge, 2017.

External links[edit]