Barbara Elias

Associate Professor of Government - on leave for the 2022-23 academic year

Barbara Elias is Associate Professor of Government at Bowdoin College specializing in international relations, insurgency warfare, U.S. foreign policy, national security, and Islam and politics. She is a 2022 Non-Resident Fellow with the Irregular Warfare Initiative, a jointly sponsored program between the Modern War Institute at West Point and the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project. Professor Elias received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in political science, and was the Director of the Afghanistan/Pakistan/Taliban Documentation Project at The National Security Archive in Washington D.C.

Her book, Why Allies Rebel: Defiant Local Partners in Counterinsurgency Wars (Cambridge University Press, 2020) was honored with two awards, including being named "Best Book" 2022 by the International Security Studies Section (ISSS) of the International Studies Association (ISA), as well as named "Best International Security Book by a Non-tenured Faculty Member," 2021 by the International Security Section of the American Political Science Association (APSA).

Research interests include counterinsurgency, proxy wars, military intervention, alliance politics, foreign policy, political Islam, Middle East politics, and power asymmetries.


  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2013
  • MA, University of Pennsylvania, 2008
  • BA, Brown University, 2002