Lisa Anderson is Special Lecturer and James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations Emerita at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Anderson served as President of the American University in Cairo for five years, from 2011-2016. Prior to her appointment as President, she was the University’s provost, a position she had assumed in 2008.  She is Dean Emerita of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia, where she led the school from 1997-2007. She was on the faculty of Columbia since 1986; prior to her appointment as Dean, she served as Chair of the Political Science Department and Director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute. She has also taught at Princeton and Harvard Universities.

Anderson’s scholarly research has included work on state formation in the Middle East and North Africa; on regime change and democratization in developing countries; and on social science, academic research and public policy both in the United States and around the world. Among her books are The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980 (1986) and Pursuing Truth, Exercising Power: Social Science and Public Policy in the Twenty-first Century (2003); she has also published numerous scholarly articles.

Anderson is a trustee of the Aga Khan University, Tufts University and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. She is a member emerita of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch, served as elected President of the Middle East Studies Association, and as Chair of the Board of the Social Science Research Council.  A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations, she has received honorary degrees from Monmouth University and the American University in Paris.



Lisa Anderson, Pursuing Truth, Exercising power: Social Science and Public Policy in the Twenty-first Century (Columbia University Press, 2003.)
Lisa Anderson, ed., Transitions to Democracy (Columbia University Press, 1999.)
Lisa Anderson, Rashid Khalidi, Muhammad Muslih, and Reeva Simon, eds., The Origins of Arab Nationalism (Columbia University Press, 1991).
Lisa Anderson, The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980 (Princeton University Press, 1986).

Principal Articles

Lisa Anderson, “An American in Cairo: Egypt Through Western Eyes,” Review Essay, Foreign Affairs 98, no. 5 (September-October 2019).
Lisa Anderson, “‘Shithole Countries’: The Wretched of the Earth, Franz Fanon,” Social Research 85, no. 3 (Fall 2018).
Lisa Anderson,“Bread, Dignity and Social Justice: Populism in the Arab World,” Philosophy and Social Criticism 44, no. 2 (May 2018).
Lisa Anderson, “Roundtable: The State and Its Competitors,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 50, no. 2 (May 2018).
Lisa Anderson, “Pre-Copernican Political Science: What Analysis of ‘Authoritarianism’ Reveals about the American Study of Politics,” Journal of International Affairs 71, no. 1 (Fall-Winter 2017).
Lisa Anderson, “‘They Defeated Us All’: International Interests, Local Politics, and Contested Sovereignty in Libya,” The Middle East Journal 71, no. 2 (Spring 2017).
Lisa Anderson, “‘Creative Destruction’: States, Identities and Legitimacy in the Arab World,” Philosophy & Social Criticism 40, no. 4-5, (May 2014).
Lisa Anderson, “Fertile Ground: The Future of Higher Education in the Arab World,” Social Research 79, no. 2 (Fall 2012).
Lisa Anderson, “Too Much Information? Political Science, the University, and the Public Sphere,” Perspectives on Politics 10, no. 2 (June 2012).
Lisa Anderson, “Demystifying the Arab Spring,” Foreign Affairs 90, no. 3 (May-June 2011); Reprinted in The New Arab Revolt (Council on Foreign Relations, 2011).
Lisa Anderson, “Ex-Presidents,” Journal of Democracy 21, no. 2 (April 2010).
Lisa Anderson, “Searching Where the Light Shines: Studying Democratization in the Middle East,” Annual Review of Political Science 9 (June 2006).
Lisa Anderson, “Antiquated Before They Ossify: States That Fail Before They Form,” Journal of International Affairs 58, no. 1 (Fall 2004).
Lisa Anderson, “Shock and Awe: Interpretations of the Events of September 11,” World Politics 56, no. 2 (January 2004).
Lisa Anderson, “Arab Democracy: Dismal Prospects,” World Policy Journal, 18 no. 3 (Fall 2001).
Lisa Anderson, “A Last Resort, an Expedient and an Experiment: Statehood and Sovereignty in Libya,” Journal of Libyan Studies 2, no. 2 (January 2001).
Lisa Anderson, “Las ciencias sociales bajo presión,” Economía Institutional 2, no. 2 (2000).
Lisa Anderson, “Obligation and Accountability: Islamic Politics in North Africa,” Daedalus 120, no. 3 (Summer 1991).
Lisa Anderson, “Human Capital in the Social Sciences,” Items, Social Science Research Council 52, no. 2-3 (June-September 1998).
Lisa Anderson, “Identità e Interessi Nei Welfare States Pre-Industriali: Le Prospettive del Liberalismo Nella Politica Araba,” Teoria Politica, 13, no. 3 (1996).
Lisa Anderson, “Peace and Democracy in the Middle East: The Constraints of Soft Budgets,” Journal of International Affairs 49, no. 1 (Summer 1995).
Lisa Anderson, “North Africa: the Limits of Liberalization,” Current History 94, no. 591 (April 1995).
Lisa Anderson, “Remaking the Middle East: The Prospects for Democracy and Stability,” Ethics and International Affairs 6, no. 3 (1992).
Lisa Anderson, “Political Pacts, Liberalism, and Democracy: The Tunisian National Pact of 1988,” Government and Opposition 26, no. 2 (Spring 1991).
Lisa Anderson, “Absolutism and the Resilience of Monarchy in the Middle East,” Political Science Quarterly 106, no. 1 (Spring 1991).
Lisa Anderson, “Liberalism in North Africa,” Current History 89, no. 546 (April 1990).
Lisa Anderson, “Lawless Government and Illegal Opposition: Reflections on the Middle East,” Journal of International Affairs 40, no. 2 (Winter 1987).
Lisa Anderson, “The State in the Middle East and North Africa,” Comparative Politics 20, no. 1 (October 1987).
Lisa Anderson, “Libya’s Qaddafi: Still in Command?” Current History 86 no. 517 (February 1987); reprinted in Current Affairs Bulletin 64, no. 4 (September 1987).
Lisa Anderson, “Qadhdhafi and his Opposition,” The Middle East Journal 40, no. 2 (Spring 1986).
Lisa Anderson, “Religion and State in Libya: The Politics of Identity,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 483 (January 1986).
Lisa Anderson, “Qaddafi and the Kremlin,” Problems of Communism 34, no. 5 (September 1985).
Lisa Anderson, “Assessing Libya’s Qaddafi,” Current History 84, no. 502 (May 1985).
Lisa Anderson, “Ottoman Reform in Nineteenth Century Libya,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 16, no. 3 (August 1984).
Lisa Anderson, “Libya and American Foreign Policy,” The Middle East Journal 36, no. 4 (Autumn 1982).  Reprinted in J. E. Peterson, ed., The Politics of Middle Eastern Oil (Washington, DC: The Middle East Institute, 1983).
Lisa Anderson, “Religion and Politics in Libya,” The Journal of Arab Affairs 1, no. 1 (January 1981).
Lisa Anderson, “Research Facilities in the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyyah,” Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 14, no. 1 (July 1980).

Book Chapters

Lisa Anderson, “‘. . . To Save Us All’: Lessons from the American University in Cairo, a Community of Learning in Revolutionary Times,” in Ted Purinton and Jennifer Skaggs, eds.,  American Universities Abroad: The Leadership of Independent Transnational Higher Education Institutions (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2017).
Lisa Anderson, “Authoritarian Legacies and Regime Change: Towards Understanding Political Transition in the Arab World,” in Fawaz Gerges, ed., The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
Lisa Anderson, “Early Adopters and Neighborhood Effects,” in Clement Henry and Ji-Hyang Jang, eds., The Arab Spring: Will It Lead to Democratic Transitions? (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
Lisa Anderson, “‘Western Institutions’ and ‘Universal Values’: Barriers to Adoption of Democracy,” in Peter F.  Nardulli, ed., International Perspectives on Contemporary Democracy (Champaigne: University of Illinois Press, 2008).
Lisa Anderson, “Conflict in the Middle East,” in Andrew Fabian and Martin Jones, eds., Conflict (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
Lisa Anderson, “Dynasts and Nationalists: Why Monarchies Survive” in Joseph Kostiner, ed., Middle East Monarchies: The Challenge of Modernity (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000).
Lisa Anderson, “Politics in the Middle East: Opportunities and Limits in the Quest for Theory” in Mark Tessler, ed., Area Studies and Social Science: Strategies for Understanding Middle East Politics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).
Lisa Anderson, “Fulfilling Prophecies: State Policy and Islamist Radicalism” in John Esposito, ed., Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism or Reform (Boulder: Rienner Publishers, 1997).
Lisa Anderson, “Patterns of State Formation and Regime Change in North Africa,” in John Entelis, ed., Crisis of Authoritarianism in North Africa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997).
Lisa Anderson, “Politics Unleashed: Liberalization and Radical Politics in Jordan and Algeria,” in Miles Kahler, ed., Liberalization and Foreign Policy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997).
Lisa Anderson, “Qaddafi’s Libya: The Results of an Experiment” in Dirk Vandewalle, ed., Qaddafi’s Libya (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995).
Lisa Anderson, “Democracy in the Arab World: A Critique of the Political Culture Approach” in Rex Brynen et al., eds., Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1995).
Lisa Anderson, “Ramadan al-Suwayhli: Hero of the Libyan Resistance,” in Edmund Burke III, ed., Struggle and Survival in the Modern Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).
Lisa Anderson, “Tribe and State: Libyan Anomalies,” in Philip Khoury and Joseph Kostiner, eds., Tribes and State Formation in the Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).
Lisa Anderson, “Legitimacy, Identity and Writing of History in Libya,” in Eric Davis and Nicolas Gavrielides, eds., Power and Representation: State Formation and Intellectual Paradigms in Arab Oil-Producing Countries (Miami: University of Florida Presses, 1990).
Lisa Anderson, “Policy-Making and Theory-Building: American Political Science and the Islamic Middle East,” in Hisham Sharabi, ed., Theory, Politics, and the Arab World (New York: Routledge, 1990).
Lisa Anderson, “Tunisia and Libya: Response to the Islamic Impulse,” in John L. Esposito, ed., The Iranian Revolution: Its Global Impact (Miami: Florida International University Press, 1989).
Lisa Anderson, “Democracy Frustrated: The Mzali Years in Tunisia,” in Reeva S. Simon, ed., The Middle East and North Africa: Essays in Honor of J. C. Hurewitz (The Middle East Institute, Columbia University, 1989.)
Lisa Anderson, “Friends and Foes: American Foreign Policy in North Africa,” in Robert I. Rotberg, ed., Africa in the 1990s and Beyond: U. S. Policy Opportunities and Choices (Boston, MA: Reference Publications, Inc., 1988).
Lisa Anderson, “Oil and Water: Agricultural Development in Libya,” in Terroirs et Sociétés au Maghreb et au Moyen Orient, (Etudes sur le Monde Arabe, Université de Lyon, 1984.)
Lisa Anderson, “Qaddafi’s Islam,” in John L. Esposito, ed., Voices of Resurgent Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.)
Lisa Anderson, “The Tripoli Republic, 1918-1922,” in  E. G. H. Joffe and K. S. MacLachlan, eds., The Economic and Social Development of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Libya (London: MENAS Press, Ltd., and Boulder: Westview Press, 1982).

Other Articles, Testimony and Reports

Lisa Anderson, “The Forty-Year War: How America Lost the Middle East,” Foreign Affairs online, 18 April 2023.
Lisa Anderson, “Shifting Patterns of Arab Politics,” The Cairo Review of Global Affairs 44 (Winter 2022).
Lisa Anderson, “International Universities in the Arab World: What is their Place?” International Higher Education 88 (2017).
Lisa Anderson, “Libya’s Long Road Back,” Middle East Report 241 (Winter 2006).
Lisa Anderson, “Scholarship, Policy, Debate and Conflict: Why We Study the Middle East and Why It Matters (2003 MESA Presidential Address),” Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 38, no. 1 (Summer 2004).
Lisa Anderson, “Political Decay in the Arab World,” Middle Eastern Lectures 4 (2001).
Lisa Anderson, “Liberalism, Islam, and the Arab State,” Dissent, (Fall 1994).