Virginia Tilley

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Professor Virginia Tilley, political scientist, in May 2014

Virginia Tilley (born 1953) is an American political scientist specialising in the comparative study of ethnic and racial conflict. She is Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in the USA.


Tilley holds a BA in Political Science from Antioch College (1985) and an MA from the Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown (1988). She completed an MA and PhD in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1997),[1] where she studied comparative politics and theories of ethnic, racial and national identities under Professor M. Crawford Young and international relations theory under Professors Michael Barnett and Emanuel Adler.

After finishing her MA in Arab Studies at Georgetown, she had served as Assistant Director of the International Organisation for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) in Washington DC, where she developed a second field in the politics of indigenous peoples.[2] This interest led her to focus her doctoral dissertation on the politics of 'being Indian' or indigeneity in Latin America, published in 2005 as Seeing Indians: A Study of Race, Nation and Power in El Salvador (University of New Mexico Press).[3]

In 1997, Tilley joined the Department of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges where she taught courses on Latin American politics, the politics of development, and Middle East politics, as well as introductory courses on international relations and comparative politics and senior seminars on comparative racial and ethnic conflict.[4] With Professor Kevin Dunne, she developed the International Relations Major and served as Co-coordinator, and for several years led the Development Studies minor. She was appointed as Associate Professor in 2003[5] but in 2005 took leave to conduct research in South Africa, initially at the Centre for Policy Studies in Johannesburg.[6] She resigned from HWS in 2006 to assume a senior post at the Human Sciences Research Council (South Africa) (HSRC).

In South Africa, she conducted studies of South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy, with special projects on poverty alleviation and rural development.[7] In 2011, she left South Africa to serve as Director of Governance Studies at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. In 2014, she moved to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in Illinois, USA, to serve as Chair and Professor of the Political Science Department. In June 2016, she stepped down as chair in order to pursue her research and continues at SIUC as tenured full professor.


Tilley has adopted a critical position regarding the Middle East peace process and has authored several articles and opinion pieces criticizing Israel's occupation policies. In her first book on the topic, The One-State Solution (2005, University of Michigan Press), she argued that Israel's settlements in the West Bank have made a two-state solution obsolete.[8] At the HSRC, Tilley coordinated a team research project in international law which found that Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are consistent with colonialism and apartheid as these regimes are codified in international law. The study was later published in 2012 by Pluto Press under the title Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.[9] Tilley has also specialized in the global comparative politics of settler colonialism and indigenous peoples. Her book on Salvadoran indigenous identity, titled "Seeing Indians: A Study of Race, Nation and Power in El Salvador", was published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2005. She has also published or co-authored a series of policy briefs on economic development strategies in post-apartheid South Africa and on nation-building in small island states in the south Pacific.


  • Seeing Indians chosen as book of the year by the 2006 Congress of Central American Anthropologists
  • 1999 Prize for the best English language article from the Congress on Latin American History, with Prof. Erik Ching.[10]

Selected articles[edit]

— (2002). "The Role of the State in Ethnic Conflict: A Constructivist Reassessment". In Green, Daniel M. Constructivism Comp Politics. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 151–174. ISBN 978-0-7656-0861-1. 


  1. ^
  2. ^ See under Publications, Without Prejudice Vol. 2, No. 2, at: .
  3. ^ Tilley, Virginia (2005). Seeing Indians: A Study of Race, Nation, And Power in El Salvador. UNM Press. ISBN 978-0-8263-3925-6. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ For example, [1].
  8. ^ Virginia Tilley (24 May 2005). The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-11513-6. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Tilley, Virginia Q. (2012). Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Pluto Press. ISBN 0-7453-3236-6. OCLC 795849477. 
  10. ^

External links[edit]