Shan J. Sappleton

Position title: UW-System Fellow (2022-2023)

Associate Professor of Political Science, Criminal Justice and Social Sciences, Univerisity of Wisconsin–Platteville

This is a headshot of a woman with dark curly Afro wearing a crimson shirtblouse and a khaki blazer.

Beyond Formal Institutions: Ethnic Politicization in sub-Saharan Africa—a Comparative Perspective

Existing comparative politics literature on democratization typically focuses on formally written rules. However, in many African countries, and as recent events in the United States indicate, many of the rules guarding democracy are unwritten or informal. These are the rules that inform citizen behavior and calculations. Exploring the historical role of unwritten rules on decision making and the narratives individuals (elites and non-elites) share about what informs their decisions can offer keen insights.

Shan J. Sappleton is an Associate Professor of Political Science at UW–Platteville and also serves as the coordinator of the Social Sciences Department and the International Studies Program. Her research interests include democratic transitions and consolidation, ethnic politics, religion and politics, and colonialism.