• 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). I have also conducted research on the political economy of development and social policy in cross-national perspective. For more detail, please see my C.V.


    I am honored to serve as an elected At-Large CAHSS representative on Faculty Senate in 2022-2023. If you are a student or a member of the CAHSS faculty or staff, please feel free to contact me with any issues that you'd like me to raise. With the other At-Large rep for CAHSS, I will do my best to address them! 

    Publication in Political Behavior (May, 2022): Sperber, Elizabeth, O’Brien Kaaba, and Gwyneth McClendon. "Increasing Youth Political Engagement with Efficacy Not Obligation: Evidence from a Workshop-Based Experiment in Zambia." Political behavior (2022): 1-26.

    Fall 2022: Working paper reporting results of a more recent, experimental and community-engaged study of youth political participation in Zambia here.

    Forthcoming: A paper comparing Christianities and politics across Latin American and Sub-Saharan Africa (with Erin Hern), a paper introducing the Pastoral Letters Project archive that I am constructing (with DU MA student, Paige Wietzel), and further analysis of the intersection of religion, gender, and youth political participation in sub-Saharan Africa (with Gwyneth McClendon). 

  • Education

  • PhD, MPh, MA, Columbia University (2016)

    • Recipient of Doria Award

    BA, Brown University (2006)

    • Highest Honors, recipient of Ida B. Wells Award
  • Contact

  • Email: Elizabeth[dot]Sperber[at]DU.edu
    Office: Sturm Hall, Room 471
    2000 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.

This portfolio last updated: 16-Nov-2022 10:55 AM