A former Kellogg Institute graduate student (Dissertation Year Fellow 2008-09) and visiting fellow (spring 2016), Olukunle P. Owolabi is an associate professor of political science at Villanova University, where he teaches courses on Comparative Politics, African Politics, comparative democratization, and the developmental legacies of colonialism. His research examines the developmental legacies of forced settlement and colonial occupation in the Global South and has been published in Comparative Politics.

His book Ruling Emancipated Slaves and Indigenous Subjects: The Divergent Legacies of Forced Settlement and Colonial Occupation in the Global South was published by Oxford University Press in spring 2023. Drawing on evidence from more than 90 countries that gained independence after World War II, the book is an examination of the divergent developmental legacies of forced settlement and colonial occupation on both sides of the Black Atlantic world.

Owolabi holds a PhD in political science from the University of Notre Dame and an MPhil in Latin American Studies with distinction from Oxford University.

The following bio was current as of 2016, when he was part of the on-campus Kellogg community:

Olukunle P. Owolabi returns to the Kellogg Institute, where he held a 2008-09 dissertation year fellowship, as a spring 2016 visiting fellow. Now assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, Owolabi examines in his research the long-term political and developmental consequences of British, French, and Portuguese colonial rule, with a particular focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

His Kellogg book project investigates the distinct trajectories of development and democracy in two regions inextricably linked through the Atlantic slave trade. Arguing that significant differences in educational attainment and postcolonial governance can be explained by different modes of extractive colonialism, he shows that administrative reforms following the abolition of slavery in Cape Verde and the West Indies led to better outcomes than those experienced after colonial occupation in West Africa.

Using both statistical methods and comparative historical analysis, the project is based on extensive research in Western Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean. An earlier work, Literacy and Democracy Despite Slavery, which won the 2012 American Political Science Association Best Paper Prize in Comparative Democratization, is forthcoming in Comparative Politics.

In addition to his PhD, Owolabi holds an MPhil in Latin American studies from the University of Oxford.

PhD Year