Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Laitin, David D.
Location Stanford University
Primary Field Social and Political Sciences
 Election Citation
Laitin is a leader in comparative politics known for his studies on how communities such as the Catalans have fought to ensure official status of their languages, and his work on the conditions under which religious differences lead to political competition.
 Research Interests
As a political scientist, I have studied how cultural differences impact on political life. I have studied several attempts of language communities to ensure official status of their languages - the Somalis in challenging the colonial administrative system in Italian and English, the Catalans in challenging Castilian linguistic hegemony in Spain, and the Russian-speakers in challenging the nationalizing policies in post-Soviet Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan - specifying the conditions when groups succeed. I have studied as well the conditions under which religious difference in a society becomes a matter of political competition, having done fieldwork in southwestern Nigeria where Muslims and Christians have been surprisingly tolerant of one another. These studies led me to statistical examinations of the (what turned out to be non-significant) role of ethnic, linguistic and religious difference for explaining civil war onsets, and the (significant) relationship of religious difference for suicide terrorism.

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