Neil DeVotta



Office: Kirby 318
Phone: 758-3242

Areas of Expertise: South Asia Politics


Neil DeVotta is a Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University.  His research interests include South Asian security and politics, ethnicity and nationalism, ethnic conflict resolution, and democratic transition and consolidation.  He is the author of Blowback: Linguistic Nationalism, Institutional Decay, and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004).  In addition to coauthoring and editing books on Sri Lanka and India, respectively, his publications have appeared in Nations and Nationalism, Journal of Democracy, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Pacific Affairs, Asian Survey, Civil Wars, Journal of International Affairs, and Contemporary South Asia.  His current research examines the links between nationalist ideologies and communal violence in South Asia.


BA Brigham Young University, 1992
MA Brigham Young University,1994
PhD University of Texas at Austin, 2001

Academic Appointments

Professor, Wake Forest University, 2017-Present
Associate Professor, Wake Forest University, 2009-2017
Associate Professor, Hartwick College, 2007-2009
Visiting Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin, 2007-2008
Assistant Professor, Hartwick College, 2003-2006
Visiting Assistant Professor, James Madison College, Michigan State University, 2001-2003




POL 114 Comparative Politics
This course covers the major issues in the field of Comparative Politics and analyzes the political types, systems, and structures of some important countries:  it addresses the concepts and theories undergirding the study of comparative politics, differentiates among the various political regimes and the possible reasons for their varied institutional arrangements; and evaluates how globalization and political violence impact their societies.

POL 242 Contemporary India
Contemporary India is in many ways a paradox.  It is both a young state and one of the world’s oldest civilizations; it is supposedly a potential superpower yet nearly 350 million of its citizens live in abject poverty; it is the proud land of Mahatma Gandhi yet brandishes nuclear weapons and hosts one of the world’s largest militaries; its rivers are revered for embodying deities yet are among the world’s most polluted waterways; its infrastructure in many areas is abysmal yet its IT technicians, engineers, scientists, and academics are in demand the world over; it is a country led by powerful women at many levels, yet its women are among the most marginalized in the world; and it is a mind-boggling polyethnic society prone to secessionist movements and periodic communal violence yet is also the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy.   This course is thus designed to provide students with a broad overview of India and introduce them to the opportunities, challenges, and contradictions facing this important country.  The topics covered include politics, international relations, communal conflict, religion, caste, and the economy.    

POL 245  Ethnonationalism
This course introduces students to the most fundamental approaches informing the scholarship on ethnonationalism and thereby examines questions dealing with ethnic identity formation, group mobilization, and the challenges facing ethnic conflict resolution.  It also evaluates the relationship between globalization and ethnonationalism and examines how certain ethnic conflicts impact the regions beyond their borders and the consequences of such diffusion.  The course incorporates case studies from both the developed and underdeveloped countries.

POL 246 Politics and Policies of South Asia
This course principally covers the political institutions and processes of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh and further evaluates the failed state of Afghanistan.  The class seeks to better understand these countries individually and comparatively by studying their experiences dealing with state formation, institutional development, governance, and future domestic and regional trajectories.

POL 252 International Relations of South Asia
This course examines foreign policy decision making among South Asia’s states (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka), with a special focus on the latter three.  In doing so, it evaluates (i) the historical dynamics influencing these states’ foreign policy making (ii) the systemic sources facilitating strategic opportunities and constraints and (iii) the domestic factors shaping foreign policy in each country.  From a comparative standpoint, the course evaluates foreign policy decision making with regard to each country’s perceived regional imperatives and their relations with the world’s great powers, especially the United States, China, and Russia.

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