Meet 2020 Carnegie Fellow Yonatan L. Morse, University of Connecticut

The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program recognizes an exceptional group of both established and emerging scholars, journalists, and authors with the goal of strengthening U.S. democracy, driving technological and cultural creativity, exploring global connections and global ruptures, and improving both natural and human environments. 

How will the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program impact your research and overall career?

I will use my time on this fellowship working on my second book project on the intersection of democracy and social welfare in sub-Saharan Africa. This fellowship provides the resources to conduct an international multi-site project, and the unparalleled opportunity to develop collaborations with several scholars and research centers in Africa working on this topic.

What research topics do you primarily focus on? How can people access your work?

Broadly speaking I study comparative political development, with a focus on elections, political parties, and legislatures within the context of sub-Saharan Africa. My first book How Autocrats Compete: Parties, Patrons and Unfair Elections in Africa looked at how differences in the evolution of ruling parties in a number of African cases influenced their propensity and ability to manipulate elections in the current era. My work has also been published in the journals World Politics, Comparative Politics, International Political Science Review, Democratization, and Qualitative Methods.

This project is a bit of a departure in terms of substance, but similar in terms of commitment to historical explanation and qualitative methodology. My work relies heavily on access to archival materials, elite interviews, and comparative case studies. This project looks at how the provision of social welfare has historically developed unevenly across Africa, and how this influences the degree to which democratic elections incentivize an expansion of social welfare. More about my work can be found at my website: https://sites.google.com/site/yonatanmorse/

Do you have any advice for students in political science, including tips on how to find funding and support for research projects?

Developing productive relationships with peers and mentors is essential, as is receiving critical feedback on your work. Apply often and widely should be the rule of thumb. Different funders have different priorities and ways of reading applications, so it is important to learn how to adapt and make the importance of your project shine through. That does not come easily to many of us, and I always try to get different sets of eyes to read my applications before sending them out.


Yonatan L. Morse is an assistant professor of political science at University of Connecticut. He has worked extensively in sub-Saharan Africa, studying comparative politics and various aspects of authoritarianism. His 2018 book, How Autocrats Compete: Parties, Patrons, and Unfair Elections in Africa, looks at governments that initially come to power in fair and competitive elections but later resort to violence and repression to maintain control.