Welcome. I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Denver. My primary research interests concern religion and politics in sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on the role of Christianities in Southern and Eastern African politics. My book manuscript, Deus ex Machina? The Politics of New Religious Movements in Sub-Saharan Africa, offers new theory to explain why Pentecostal Christianity has emerged as a highly politicized identity in some sub-Saharan states in recent decades but not others. I test this theory using both cross and sub-national data, which includes qualitative and quantitative databases that I compiled in Zambia (2011-2017).
Other research interests, focused primarily on Africcan contexts, include youth political participation, the impact of religious and non-religious civic education programs on youth political participation, Catholic Bishops' political advocacy across countries and over time, the political economy of development, and social policy in cross-national perspective.
- Working Paper : Delivering Democracy? Comparing Catholic Bishops’ Public Advocacy for Democracy in Malawi and Zambia, 1987-2022 (R&R, revision under review).
- Working Paper: Main findings from a recent community-engaged experimental study of youth political participation in Zambia (R&R, revision under review).
- Publication in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (Feb., 2023): “Comparing the Religious and Political Orientations of Renewalist Christians Across Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa."
- Publication in Political Behavior (May, 2022): "Increasing Youth Political Engagement with Efficacy Not Obligation: Evidence from a Workshop-Based Experiment in Zambia." Political behavior (2022): 1-26.
- Recipient of the Dean's Award for Interdisciplinary Studies (2022-2023), University of Denver
PhD, MPh, MA, Columbia University (2016)
- Recipient of Doria Award
BA, Brown University (2006)
- Highest Honors, recipient of Ida B. Wells Award
Email: Elizabeth[dot]Sperber[at]DU.edu2000 E. Asbury Ave.
Denver, CO 80208
Lusaka, Zambia, 2013. Research assistant, Mr. Lungu, helps construct databases from government records.
Rakai District, Uganda, 2010. Pictured here with research assistants on a predissertation study.
Partisan Evangelical Christian organization campaigns for incumbent Presidential candidate a month before Zambia's controversial 2016 election. Photo credit: Lusaka Times, 7/27/16.