Elisabeth Jean Wood

Elisabeth Jean Wood is an American political scientist, currently the Franklin Muzzy Crosby Professor of the Human Environment, professor of political science, and professor of international and area studies at Yale University. She studies sexual violence during war, the emergence of political insurgencies and individuals' participation in them, and democratization, with a focus on Latin American politics and African politics.

Elisabeth Jean Wood
Alma mater
  • Luebbert Award, APSA
  • Fellow, AAAS
  • Yale Graduate Mentor Award
Scientific career

Education and early careerEdit

Wood received a BA in physics from Cornell University in 1979, and then another BA in philosophy and mathematics from the University of Oxford in 1981.[1] She then received a MA in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, followed by an MA in Latin American Studies in 1988, also from UC Berkeley.[1] She completed her education in 1995, receiving a PhD in political science from Stanford University.[1]

Upon completing her PhD, Wood became a professor in the department of politics at New York University.[1] She remained a professor in that department until 2004, when she moved to Yale University. During this time she also began a professorship at the Santa Fe Institute[2] in 2002 which she held until 2010. From 2010 to 2017, she was a member of the external faculty at the Santa Fe Institute.[1]


In 2000, Wood published her first book, Forging Democracy from Below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and El Salvador. In this book, Wood uses micro-level ethnographic data obtained from fieldwork in the two cases of El Salvador and South Africa to argue that the process of democratization can be prompted by alliances of workers and impoverished people who confront established elites.[3] In Forcing Democracy from Below, Wood studies the conditions in which this sort of democratization process can be successful.[3]

Wood's second book, Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador, was published in 2003. Wood studies the cooperation of rural people and agricultural cooperatives with a political insurgency in El Salvador, arguing that many individuals overcame the collective action problem to participate in a dangerous insurgency because of a combination of beliefs that the insurgency would have positive effects, a desire to express defiance, and the pleasure of expressing individual agency.[4] In reviewing the book, Jon Shefner noted that the field sites that Wood spent time in to research the book were particularly challenging and dangerous, and that she documented her findings with noteworthy methodological precision.[4]

Wood has been a co-editor of two other books: the 2010 volume Political Representation, and the 2012 volume Understanding and Proving International Sex Crimes.[1] In addition to publications in journals like Politics and Society,[5] The Journal of Peace Research,[6] and Comparative Political Studies[7] on topics like democratization in El Salvador, sexual assault in the military, and sexual violence by armed forces, she has authored a number of public policy pieces in the popular media. These include pieces in The Washington Post,[8][9] The New York Times,[10] and Al Jazeera.[11]

Wood is a member of the 2020-2024 editorial leadership of the American Political Science Review,[2][9][12] which is the most selective political science journal.[13] She was previously a member of the editorial boards of the American Political Science Review from 2007-2013, as well as of World Politics, Politics and Society, and the Contentious Politics Series of the Cambridge University Press.[14] She has also served on the American Political Science Association's Committee on Human Subjects Research.[14]

In 2010, Wood was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[15] and in 2018 she was named the Franklin Muzzy Crosby Professor of the Human Environment at Yale University.[16]

Selected worksEdit

  • Forging Democracy from Below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and El Salvador. (2000)
  • Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. (2003)
  • "The social processes of civil war: The wartime transformation of social networks". Annual Review of Political Science. (2008)

Selected awardsEdit

  • 2005 Luebbert Award for the Best Book in Comparative Politics, APSA Comparative Politics Section[17]
  • 2010 Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences[15]
  • 2013 Graduate Mentor Award for the Social Sciences at Yale University[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Elisabeth Jean Wood at Yale University". Yale University. 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b Marshall, Jenna (26 July 2019). "Righting the balance: New APSR editors meet at SFI to discuss gender and race in scientific publishing". Santa Fe Institute. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b Pearce, Jenny (September 2001). "Reviewed Work(s): Forging Democracy from below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and El Salvador by Elisabeth Wood". The American Political Science Review. American Political Science Association. 95 (3): 758–759.
  4. ^ a b Shefner, Jon (September 2004). "Reviewed Work: Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador by Elisabeth Jean Wood". Contemporary Sociology. 33 (5): 585–586.
  5. ^ "Rape as a Practice of War: Towards a Typology of Political Violence". Politics and Society. 46 (4): 513–537. 2018.
  6. ^ Wood, Elisabeth Jean; Toppelberg, Nathaniel (2017). "The persistence of sexual assault within the US military". Journal of Peace Research. 54 (5): 620–633.
  7. ^ "An Insurgent Path to Democracy: Popular Mobilization, Economic Interests and Regime Transition in South Africa and El Salvador". Comparative Political Studies. 34 (8): 862–888. 2001.
  8. ^ Wood, Elisabeth Jean; Nordås, Ragnhild (8 October 2018). "Why the Nobel Peace Prize went to 2 people fighting sexual violence in war". the Washington Post.
  9. ^ a b American Political Science Review's incoming editorial team (29 August 2019). "We're an all-women team chosen to edit political science's flagship journal. Here's why that matters". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  10. ^ Wood, Elisabeth Jean; Cohen, Dara Kay (28 October 2015). "How to Counter Rape During War". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  11. ^ Wood, Elisabeth Jean (21 February 2014). "Is Rape Inevitable during War?". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  12. ^ "APSA Announces the New Editorial Team for the American Political Science Review". American Political Science Association. 26 July 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Cutting-Edge Research Agenda". University of Tennessee Knoxville. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Meet 2020 APSR Editor, Elisabeth Jean Wood of Yale University". Political Science Now. American Political Science Association. 26 August 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Professor Elisabeth Jean Wood". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Elisabeth Wood named Franklin Muzzy Crosby Professor of the Human Environment". Yale University. 26 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  17. ^ "Comparative Politics Section Award Recipients". American Political Science Association. 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Elisabeth Wood named the Crosby Professor of the Human Environment". Yale News. Yale University. 12 February 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2020.