Nicholas Rush Smith

Assistant Professor

Main Affiliation

Political Science

Office

NAC 4/143B

Phone

212-650-5238

Nicholas Rush Smith

Profile

Nicholas Rush Smith's main research interests are the political dynamics of democratic states, with a particular focus on the politics of crime, policing, and vigilantism South Africa. His first book, entitled Contradictions of Democracy: Vigilantism and Rights in Post-Apartheid South Africa, was published by Oxford University Press (2019) in the Oxford Studies in Culture and Politics series. Based on approximately 20 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.

 

Professor Smith is currently working on two additional book projects. The first, provisionally entitled The Tradition of All Dead Generations: Crisis and Reproduction after Democratic State Violence, explores the ways in which democracy is reproduced in the wake of state violence, focusing particularly on the 2012 Marikana Massacre in South Africa. The second, an edited volume in development with Erica S. Simmons (University of Wisconsin - Madison), is provisionally entitled Rethinking Comparison. Based on a conference Smith and Simmons jointly organized at the City College of New York, the collected papers will lay out logics for conducting comparative research that go beyond the controlled comparisons that usually form the basis for graduate methods training in the social sciences.

 

In addition to these main projects, Professor Smith has published work on counterrevolution, on rights amidst democratization, and on comparative and ethnographic methods. His work has been published in leading journals like the American Journal of SociologyComparative PoliticsAfrican AffairsPS: Political Science and Politics and Qualitative and Multi-Method Research and he is on the editorial committee for Comparative Politics. He was a Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program, has won multiple awards for his writing from the American Political Science Association, and has received grant and fellowship support from, among other organizations, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and Fulbright-Hays.

 

Education

PhD, University of Chicago, 2013 

 

MA, University of Chicago, 2004

 

MA, The George Washington University, 2003

 

BA, The College of William and Mary, 2001

Publications

BOOKS 

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. 2019. Contradictions of Democracy: Vigilantism and Rights in Post-Apartheid South Africa. New York: Oxford University Press. (Oxford Studies in Culture and Politics series)

 

 

PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS 

 

Simmons, Erica S. and Nicholas Rush Smith. 2019. “The Case for Comparative Ethnography.” Comparative Politics 51 (3): 341-359.

 

Simmons, Erica S., Nicholas Rush Smith, and Rachel Schwartz. 2018. "Rethinking Comparison in the Social Sciences." Qualitative and Multi-Method Research 16 (1): 1-7. (Co-organizer of symposium on "Rethinking Comparison in the Social Sciences.")

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. 2017. “The Rule of Rights: Comparative Lessons from Twenty Years of South African Democracy.” Comparative Politics 50 (1): 123-141. 

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. 2017. “New Times Demand Old Magic: Necklacing Past and Present.” In Global Lynching and Collective Violence: Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Michael Pfeifer, Ed. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press.

 

Simmons, Erica and Nicholas Rush Smith. 2017. “Comparison with an Ethnographic Sensibility.” PS: Political Science and Politics 50 (1): 126-130.

 

Slater, Dan and Nicholas Rush Smith. 2016. “The Power of Counterrevolution: Elitist Origins of Political Order in Postcolonial Asia and Africa.” American Journal of Sociology. 121 (5): 1472-1516.

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. 2015. “Rejecting Rights: Vigilantism and Violence in Post-Apartheid South Africa.” African Affairs 114(456): 341-360. 

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. Forthcoming. “'Township Violence and the End of Apartheid: War on the Reef' by Gary Kynoch.” International Journal of African Historical Studies.

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. 2018. “’Bodies of Truth: Law, Memory, and Emancipation in Post-Apartheid South Africa' by Rita Kesselring.” Anthropological Quarterly 91 (2): 841-845.

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. 2017. “’Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa' by Stephanie M. Burchard and 'The Limits of Democratic Governance in South Africa' by Louis A. Picard and Thomas Mogale." Perspectives on Politics 15 (1): 261-262.

 

 

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. 2019. “Contradictions of Democracy: Vigilantism and Rights in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Democracy in Africa. 20 May. http://democracyinafrica.org/contradictions-democracy-vigilantism-rights-post-apartheid-south-africa/. (Invited)

 

Schwedler, Jillian M., Erica S. Simmons and Nicholas Rush Smith. 2019. "Ethnography and Participant Observation." American Political Science Association Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, Qualitative Transparency Deliberations, Working Group Final Reports, Report III.3 (August 2018). https://ssrn.com/abstract=3333465

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. 2018. “Apartheid.” In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Surveillance, Security, and Privacy. Bruce Arrigo, Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. 2018. “South Africa.” In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Surveillance, Security, and Privacy. Bruce Arrigo, Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

 

Simmons, Erica and Nicholas Rush Smith. 2015. “The Case for Comparative Ethnography.” Qualitative and Multi-Method Research: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research 13 (2): 13-18.

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. “Beyond Pistorius: The Politics of South African Justice.” African Arguments. September 12, 2014. http://africanarguments.org/2014/09/12/beyond-pistorius-the-politics-of-south-african-justice-by-nicholas-rush-smith/

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. “The Struggle Continues: Mandela and His Legacies.” Five Rupees. July 1, 2013. http://fiverupees.com/2013/07/01/guest-post-the-struggle-continues-mandela-and-his-legacies/ (Invited)

 

Smith, Nicholas Rush. “The Wonga Coup: Transparency and Conspiracy in Equatorial Guinea.” CSIS Online Africa Policy Forum. January 23, 2008: http://forums.csis.org/africa.

Courses Taught

GRADUATE

 

IR B6800 Research Methods

 

IR B6917 Africa in World Affairs

 

 

UNDERGRADUATE

 

PSC 10400 Introduction to World Politics

 

PSC 31113 Argument and Evidence in Political Science

 

PSC 31548 Senior Thesis

 

PSC 31778 Political Systems of Africa

 

PSC 31807 The Politics of Crime and Punishment