Alanna Van Antwerp

Alanna Van Antwerp



Major — Comparative Politics

Minor — International Relations

I am a 5th year PhD candidate, recently returned from conducting dissertation fieldwork in Egypt, where I was a 2012 Boren Fellow. I am also currently serving as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for GW's Women's Leadership Program.

My dissertation focuses on answering two sets of questions. The first set is specific to the Middle East and North Africa: when and why do Islamist political groups come to power after authoritarian collapse, and what explains the different results in the founding elections of three Muslim-majority Arab Spring countries (Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya)? The second set of questions is relevant to political science as a whole: which political groups are best able to mobilize supporters after authoritarian collapse more generally and how do authoritarian legacies impact post-authoritarian politics?

Before entering the PhD program in 2009, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Mongolia, worked for Save the Children in Armenia and was a Research Associate at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C, focused on the Levant. While completing my M.A. in International Development Studies, I performed a research consultancy as part of a small team for CCF-Liberia on the causes of and solutions to the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrated by U.N. peacekeepers, conducting research in urban and rural Liberia.

I received qualitative methods training at the Institute for Qualitative Methods Research at Syracuse University (2012) and Arabic language training in Damascus (2010) and Alexandria, Egypt (2012). I speak advanced Arabic (modern standard and Egyptian dialect), intermediate Spanish, and basic Mongolian. 

Current Research

The Middle East, civil society under authoritarianism, social movements and political mobilization, democratization, political Islam, Egypt, Syria. 


  • M.A. International Development Studies, The George Washington University
  • Concurrent B.A./M.A. Linguistics, University of Colorado at Boulder, summa cum laude


Dissertation Title: Legacies of Repression: Political Mobilization in the Shadow of Authoritarian Rule

Committee: Nathan J. Brown, Marc Lynch, Kimberly Morgan


"Post-Soviet Lessons for Egypt," The Middle East Channel, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2 July 2013. 

"The Electoral Model Without Elections: The Arab Uprisings of 2011 and the Color Revolutions in Comparative Perspective," Forthcoming. (With Nathan J. Brown)