Jennifer A. Riggan

Professor, Historical and Political Studies

Easton 235 1 (215) 572-8617 Tuesday 2-3 Thursday 11-12 and by appointment Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

About Me

Dr. Jennifer Riggan is Professor and Director of International Studies in the Department of Historical and Political Studies at Arcadia University. She is the current Frank and Evelyn Steinbrucker '42 Endowed Chair and will hold the position during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years. She began teaching at Arcadia in 2007.  She is a political anthropologist whose ethnographic research focuses on political identities and state formation in Eritrea and Ethiopia. She has published on the changing relationship between citizenship and nationalism, the de-coupling of the nation and the state, and the relationship between militarization, education and development. Her current research explores the effects of new paradigms in global migration management on Ethiopian refugee policy and Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia. She is the author of The Struggling State: Nationalism, Mass Militarization and the Education of Eritrea (2016).  She has held fellowships from the Wolf Humanities Center (2020-21), The Georg Arnhold Program (2019), Fulbright (Addis Ababa University 2016-17 & Asmara University 2004-5), the Spencer Foundation/ National Academy of Education (2012-14), and the Social Science Research Council (2004-5). Her current research interests include forced migration, refugee hosting in the global south, and temporal agency among refugees. Along with Amanda Poole she is the author of The Hosting State and Its Restless Guests: Time-Making, Mobility and Containment Among Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia, which is currently under review. She recently received an MFA in Creative Writing from Arcadia. 

Areas Of Focus

Nationalism, Anthropology of the State, Citizenship, Political Identity, Refugees, Critical Development Studies, Childhood and Youth, Teachers, the Anthropology of Peace and Conflict, Authoritarianism, Democratization, Horn of Africa, Education


Home Country

Education History

University of Pennsylvania 2007

PhD, Major in Education, Culture and Society

Trinity College 1992

BA, Major in English- Creative Writing

Minor in Spanish


Author 2016

The Struggling State: Nationalism, Mass Militarization and the Education of Eritrea.

Book, Temple University Press

Author 2016

Open Access Version of The Struggling State: Nationalism, Mass Militarization and the Education of Eritrea

Book, Temple University Press (Download available through Knowledge Unlatched)

Author 2015

Prison State, Pariah and Proxy War: Human Rights Narratives and the Sovereignty Backlash in Eritrea

Article, African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review

Author 2016

Slippery Citizenship: Nationalism, Democracy and the State in Africa

Contribution to book, In Muna Ndolu & Mamoudou Gazibo, Eds. Democracy, Elections and Accountability in Africa. Oxford: James Curry.

Author 2014

Biopolitical Departures: A Love Story

Article, Journal of Narrative Politics 1(1)

Author 2013

Imagining Emigration: Debating National Duty in Eritrean Classrooms

Article, Africa Today 60 (2)

Author 2013

"It Seemed Like a Punishment" Teacher Transfers, Hollow Nationalism and the Intimate State in Eritrea

Article, American Ethnologist 40(4):749-763.

Author 2011

In Between Nations: Ethiopian-Born Eritreans, Liminality and War

Article, Political and Legal Anthropology Review. 34(1) 131-154.

Lead Author 2011

Meta-travel: A critical inquiry into a China study tour

Article, Frontiers: The Journal of Study Abroad. 21: 236-253

Co-Authored with Sonya Gwak, Stacy Olitsky, Joy Lesnick & Kara Jackson

Author 2009

Avoiding Wastage by Making Soldiers: Technologies of the State and the Imagination of the Educated Nation

Contribution to book, Biopolitics, Militarism, and the Developmental State: Eritrea in the 21st Century, Editors: David O’Kane and Tricia Redeker Hepner, Berghahn Books, Dislocations Series.