Bio


David D. Laitin is the James T. Watkins IV and Elise V. Watkins Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. He received his BA from Swarthmore College, and then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Somalia and Grenada, where he became national tennis champion in 1970. Back in the US, he received his Ph.D. in political science from UC Berkeley, working under the direction of Ernst Haas and Hanna Pitkin.

He has taught at three great universities: UCSD (1975-87), the University of Chicago (1987-1999) and now at Stanford. Over his career, as a student of comparative politics, he has conducted field research in Somalia, Yorubaland (Nigeria), Catalonia (Spain), Estonia, and France, all the time focusing on issues of language and religion, and how these cultural phenomena link nation to state. His books include Politics, Language and Thought: The Somali Experience (1977), Hegemony and Culture: Politics and Religious Change among the Yoruba (1986), Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa (1992), Identity in Formation: The Russian-Speaking Populations in the Near Abroad (1998), and Nations, States and Violence (2007).

Over the past decade, mostly in collaboration with James Fearon, he has published several papers on ethnicity, ethnic cooperation, the sources of civil war, and on policies that work to settle civil wars. Laitin has also collaborated with Alan Krueger on international terrorism and with Eli Berman on suicide terrorism.

In 2008-2009, with support from the National Science Foundation, and with a visiting appointment at Sciences-Po Paris, Laitin conducted ethnographic, survey and experimental research on Muslim integration into France, seeking to assess the magnitude of religious discrimination and isolate the mechanisms that sustain it. The initial results from that project were published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (2010).

Laitin has been a recipient of fellowships from the Howard Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

Academic Appointments


2017-18 Courses


All Publications


  • A Political Philosophy in Public Life: Civic Republicanism in Zapatero's Spain (Book Review) POLITICAL THEORY Book Review Authored by: Laitin, D. D. 2012; 40 (3): 387-394
  • Sons of the Soil, Migrants, and Civil War WORLD DEVELOPMENT Fearon, J. D., Laitin, D. D. 2011; 39 (2): 199-211
  • Rational Islamophobia in Europe ARCHIVES EUROPEENNES DE SOCIOLOGIE Laitin, D. 2011; 51 (3): 429-447
  • Fifth Nations and Nationalism debate on David Laitin's Nations, States, and Violence NATIONS AND NATIONALISM Green, E. D., Banton, M., Guibernau, M., Laitin, D. 2009; 15 (4): 557-574
  • Immigrant Communities and Civil War Annual Meeting of the American-Political-Science-Association Laitin, D. D. WILEY-BLACKWELL. 2009: 35–59
  • Religion, terrorism and public goods: Testing the club model JOURNAL OF PUBLIC ECONOMICS Berman, E., Laitin, D. D. 2008; 92 (10-11): 1942-1967
  • American Immigration through Comparativists' Eyes COMPARATIVE POLITICS Laitin, D. D. 2008; 41 (1): 103-?
  • A theory of endogenous institutional change AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Greif, A., Laitin, D. D. 2004; 98 (4): 633-652
  • "Misunderestimating" terrorism - The state departments big mistake FOREIGN AFFAIRS Krueger, A. B., Laitin, D. D. 2004; 83 (5): 8-13
  • Neotrusteeship and the problem of weak states INTERNATIONAL SECURITY Fearon, J. D., Laitin, D. D. 2004; 28 (4): 5-43
  • Three models of integration and the Estonian/Russian reality Conference on Multicultural Estonia Laitin, D. D. ASSOC ADVANCEMENT BALTIC STUDIES INC. 2003: 197–222
  • The Perestroikan challenge to social science POLITICS & SOCIETY Laitin, D. D. 2003; 31 (1): 163-184
  • Ethnicity, insurgency, and civil war AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Fearon, J. D., Laitin, D. D. 2003; 97 (1): 75-90
  • Culture and national identity: 'The east' and european integration WEST EUROPEAN POLITICS Laitin, D. D. 2002; 25 (2): 55-?
  • Secessionist rebellion in the former Soviet Union Conference on Beyond State Crisis - The Quest for the Efficacious State in Africa and Eurasia Laitin, D. D. SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC. 2001: 839–61
  • Are ethnic groups biological "species" to the human brain? Essentialism in our cognition of some social categories Meeting of the Human-Behavior-and-Evolution-Society Gil-White, F. J. UNIV CHICAGO PRESS. 2001: 515–54
  • Post-Soviet politics ANNUAL REVIEW OF POLITICAL SCIENCE Laitin, D. D. 2000; 3: 117-148
  • Language conflict and violence: the straw that strengthens the camel's back ARCHIVES EUROPEENNES DE SOCIOLOGIE Laitin, D. D. 2000; 41 (1): 97-137
  • What is a language community? AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE Laitin, D. D. 2000; 44 (1): 142-155
  • Armenia and Azerbaijan: Thinking a way out of Karabakh MIDDLE EAST POLICY Laitin, D. D., Suny, R. G. 1999; 7 (1): 145-176
  • Toward a political science discipline - Authority patterns revisited COMPARATIVE POLITICAL STUDIES Laitin, D. D. 1998; 31 (4): 423-443
  • The cultural identities of a European state Quo Vadis Europa, 2000 Conference Laitin, D. D. SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC. 1997: 277–302
  • Explaining interethnic cooperation 91st Annual Meeting of the American-Political-Science-Association Fearon, J. D., Laitin, D. D. CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS. 1996: 715–35
  • THE QUALITATIVE-QUANTITATIVE DISPUTATION - KING,GARY KEOHANE,ROBERT,O., AND VERBA,SIDNEY DESIGNING SOCIAL INQUIRY - SCIENTIFIC INFERENCE IN QUALITATIVE RESEARCH AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Anonymous 1995; 89 (2): 454-454
  • NATIONAL REVIVALS AND VIOLENCE ARCHIVES EUROPEENNES DE SOCIOLOGIE Laitin, D. D. 1995; 36 (1): 3-43
  • MARGINALITY - A MICROPERSPECTIVE RATIONALITY AND SOCIETY Laitin, D. D. 1995; 7 (1): 31-57
  • THE TOWER-OF-BABEL AS A COORDINATION GAME - POLITICAL LINGUISTICS IN GHANA AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Laitin, D. D. 1994; 88 (3): 622-634
  • LANGUAGE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATES - THE CASE OF CATALONIA IN SPAIN POLITICS & SOCIETY Laitin, D. D., SOLE, C., Kalyvas, S. N. 1994; 22 (1): 5-29
  • THE GAME-THEORY OF LANGUAGE REGIMES INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Laitin, D. D. 1993; 14 (3): 227-239
  • MIGRATION AND LANGUAGE SHIFT IN URBAN INDIA 1989 SPRING SEMINAR OF THE UNIV WASHINGTONS PROGRAM ON THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ETHNICITY AND NATIONALITY : LANGUAGE IN POWER Laitin, D. D. MOUTON DE GRUYTER. 1993: 57–72
  • LANGUAGE NORMALIZATION IN ESTONIA AND CATALONIA JOURNAL OF BALTIC STUDIES Laitin, D. D. 1992; 23 (2): 149-166
  • LANGUAGE, IDEOLOGY, AND THE PRESS IN CATALONIA AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST Laitin, D. D., Gomez, G. R. 1992; 94 (1): 9-30
  • STRUCTURE AND IRONY IN SOCIAL REVOLUTIONS POLITICAL THEORY Laitin, D. D., Warner, C. M. 1992; 20 (1): 147-151