CIDCM People: David Backer

Dr. David Backer joined the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) at the University of Maryland in March 2012. In his capacity as Director of CIDCM, he serves as an expert on projects in the area of conflict management policy research, as well as coordinates the development of the biennial publication Peace and Conflict.

Previously, Dr. Backer was a Senior Program Officer at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). His responsibilities included overseeing lessons learned initiatives on Gender, Conflict & Peacebuilding and Peace Education, designing and supervising the Strategic Focus Project Fund, contributing to the administration of the Annual Grant Competition, and managing a portfolio of grantees engaged in conflict resolution and peacebuilding projects around the world.

From 2005-2010, Dr. Backer was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government and a member of the African Studies and International Relations faculty at the College of William & Mary. He also spent time as a Post-Doctoral Scholar at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (2005-06) and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies (2009-10). During the 2004-05 academic year, he was a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Over the years, Dr. Backer has taught undergraduate courses in comparative politics, African politics, comparative democratization, human rights, and transitional justice, plus facilitated capacity-building programs for members of civil society in various post-conflict settings.

His specialty is comparative analysis of the choice and impact of transitional justice measures, reflected in ongoing studies of the responses of victims of conflict in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, as Director of the West Africa Transitional Justice Project, and separately in South Africa and Kenya. Other notable work examines topics such as political violence, ethnic conflict, elites in closed regimes, nongovernmental organizations in authoritarian settings, and party systems. Dr. Backer's research has been awarded funding from USIP, the US National Science Foundation, the US Department of Defense, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, and the American Political Science Association. His publications include articles and book reviews in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Comparative Political Studies, the International Journal of Transitional Justice, International Politics, Democratization, the Taiwan Journal of Democracy, Global Studies Review, and Complexity, chapters in several edited volumes and conference proceedings, and working papers released by the Santa Fe Institute, the Carter Center, the Afrobarometer Project, and the Oxford Transitional Justice Research Network.

In addition, Dr. Backer is a founding Co-Director of the Constituency-Level Elections Archive (CLEA), an original member (since 2006) of the Board of Editors of the International Journal of Transitional Justice, a Research Associate of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, and a consultant to the Innovations for Successful Societies research program at Princeton University.

Dr. Backer received an MA and PhD in Political Science at the University of Michigan, supported by a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. Prior to graduate school, he was a Fulbright Scholar in the Department of Political Studies at the University of Cape Town. He also received a BA summa cum laude, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies (Social Change & the Political Economy) and Economics, from Amherst College.