This profile was current as of 2017, when she was part of the on-campus Kellogg community.

Lauren Honig (PhD, Cornell University), a visiting fellow for the 2016–17 academic year, conducts research on the political economy of development and comparative politics in sub-Saharan Africa. Her research interests include state building, property rights, natural resource governance, and plural systems of local authority. 

At Kellogg, Honig plans to complete the book manuscript “Land, State-Building, and Political Authority in Africa.” This project investigates the development of plural property rights, critical to governance, economic development, and environmental policy. Based on 18 months of fieldwork in Senegal and Zambia, her research demonstrates how diverse systems of customary authority, such as traditional chiefdoms and Islamic marabouts, shape where state land titles develop.

She examines two key processes that replace customary land rights with state property rights, thereby extending the state’s authority over land. First, she studies local resistance to large-scale land acquisitions by the state and multinational corporations in an era of booming global demand for African agricultural land. Second, she shows that farmers in Zambia and Senegal strategically title their land in response to their communities’ type of customary authority. The work has implications for the livelihoods of small farmers and for state authority. 

Honig’s earlier research is forthcoming as “Immigrant Political Economies and Exclusionary Policy in Africa” in Comparative Politics. Prior to graduate school, she served in the Peace Corps as a community health worker in Burkina Faso for two years. She starts as assistant professor of political science at Boston College in fall 2017.

Thematic Interests

State building; Property rights; Natural resource governance; Plural systems of local authority

Current Research

Land, State-Building, and Political Authority in Africa