Karen Ferree

Karen Ferree is an associate professor of political science at the University of California San Diego. Ferree studies democratization in Africa. Her work sits at the intersection of institutional and behavioral approaches to politics, with a particular focus on how ethnic and racial divisions and formal and informal institutions shape voting behavior and election outcomes in emerging democracies.  She has written about South African politics in her book, Framing the Race in South Africa: the Political Origins of Racial Census Elections (Cambridge University Press, 2011).  She has also written about electoral institutions, electoral integrity, and issues related to survey design in Africa. She received her PhD from Harvard University.

  • Comparative politics
  • Politics of democracy
  • Elections


Ferree, Karen. 2011. Framing the Race in South Africa: The Political Origins of Racial Census Elections. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Book Chapter

Ferree, Karen. 2018. "Electoral Systems in Context: South Africa." In Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems, edited by Erik S. Herron, Robert J. Pekkanen, and Matthew S. Shugart. London: Oxofrd University Press.


Adida, Claire, Karen Feree, Daniel Posner, and Amanda Robinson. 2016. "Who’s Asking? Interviewer Coethnicity Effects in African Survey Data." Comparative Political Studies 49 (12): 1630–60. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414016633487.

Ferree, Karen. 2018. "Accountability and the Challenges of Performance Voting in Africa." Comparative Democratization Newsletter 16 (1).

Ferree, Karen, Clark Gibson, and Barack Hoffman. 2017. "Why the Salience of Social Divisions Matters in Party Systems: Testing the Interactive Hypothesis in South Africa." Party Politics, May 8. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354068817705124. 

Ferree, Karen, Clark Gibson, and James D. Long. 2014. "Voting Behavior and Electoral Irregularities in Kenya’s 2013 Election." Journal of Eastern African Studies 8 (1): 153–72. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2013.871182.

Ferree, Karen, Danielle F. Jung, Robert A. Dowd, and Clark C. Gibson. 2018. "Election Ink and Turnout in a Partial Democracy." British Journal of Political Science, July 13. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007123418000121. 

Ferree, Karen, and James D. Long. 2016. "Gifts, Threats, and Perceptions of Ballot Secrecy in Africa." African Affairs 115 (461): 62145. https://doi.org/10.1093/afraf/adw049.

Ferree, KarenG. Bingham Powell, and Ethna Scheiner. 2014. "Context, Electoral Rules, and Party Systems." Annual Review of Political Science 17:42139. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-102512-195419.