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Faculty and Staff Profiles

Nicholas Rush Smith

Assistant Professor


Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership


Political Science


NAC 4/143B

p: 212-650-5238


  • Profile

    Professor Smith's main research interests are on the politics of crime, policing, and vigilantism in democratic states. He is currently working on a book project, tentatively titled "Resisting Rights: Vigilantism and the Contradictions of Democratic State Formation in Post-Apartheid South Africa." Based on 18 months of ethnographic and archival research, it asks why South Africa has experienced extraordinarily high rates of vigilantism despite a celebrated transition to democracy, a lauded constitution, and massive transformations of the state's legal apparatus following apartheid. In addition to this main project, Professor Smith is conducting research on postcolonial party durability, prison memoirs, and qualitative and ethnographic methods. He has received grant and fellowship support from, among other organizations, the Social Science Research Council and Fulbright-Hays.


  • Education

    Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2013

  • Courses Taught

    PSC 31778 Politics of Africa
    IR B6917 Africa in World Affairs
    PSC 31113 Argument and Evidence in Political Science
    PSC 31807 The Politics of Crime and Punishment 
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