Rachel Sigman

​​I am Assistant Professor of Democratic Governance at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at University of Denver where I conduct research and teach courses on democracy, governance, African politics, development, and security. I am also a project manager with the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project based at the University of Gothenburg. 


My current research focuses on the politics of state institutional performance. In my book, Parties, Political Finance, and Governance in Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2023), I explain how political party institutions shape politicians' strategies to extract money from the state to finance their political operations; and how different extraction strategies, in turn, generate divergent patterns of politicization in the state's executive and bureaucratic institutions. I have also worked on projects related to the measurement of state capacity and exclusion, the effects of oil revenue on bureaucratic institutions, the relationship between distributional inequality and autocratization, and how international actors exert influence on government decision-making in African countries.


My recent research is published or forthcoming in The Journal of Politics, Comparative Political StudiesWorld Development, ​Governance, The Journal of Development Studies, The Journal of Global Security Studies, Political Science Research and Methods, and Development Policy Review. My work has been funded by The British Academy/Department for International Development, The World Bank, The German Development Institute, The V-Dem Institute, The Open Society Initiative for West Africa, and U.S. Africa Command. I have conducted field research in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, and Senegal. In 2020, I was the recipient of the Naval Postgraduate School's Hamming Award for Teaching.