I am a Research Associate at the Institute for Defense Analyses' Africa Program, a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at the National Defense University, a freelance journalist, and a contributor to the Nigeria Social Violence Project at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. I have conducted field work in Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. My current research focuses on social violence and the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. I am writing a book for Zed Publishers exploring the gender dynamics of the Boko Haram insurgency. 



  • “Rwanda and Ethiopia: Developmental Authoritarianism and the New Politics of African Strong Men.” African Studies Review 58.2 (2015): 181-204. Available here
  • "Boko Haram's War on Women." Newsweek. February 8, 2016. 
  • "Ethiopian Intifada? Anti-Government Protests Shake the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front." Africa Watch. August 25, 2016.
  • "Boko Haram's Internal Rift probably isn't Good News. Here's Why." Washington Post. August 24, 2016. 
  • "In the Fight Against Boko Haram, What's the Role of the Multi-national Joint Task Force?" Africa Watch. August 18, 2016.
  • "The Wives of Boko Haram." Foreign Affairs. August 17, 2016.
  • "Efforts at Pan-African Integration: New Variations on an Old Theme?" Africa Watch. August 11, 2016. 
  • "Strangers in a Familiar Land: A Referendum on Ivoirite?" Africa Watch. August 4, 2016.  
  • "Miscalculating Security: Obstacles to Reliable Data in Sub-Saharan Africa and Their Implications." Africa Watch. July 28, 2016. 
  • "Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Perils and Potential." Africa Watch. July 28, 2016. 
  • "PM Netanyahu's African Pilgrimage: Leveraging the Present to Overcome the Past." Africa Watch, July 21, 2016. 
  • "Unstable Foundations -- Constitutional Insecurity and the Crisis in South Sudan." Africa Watch, July 21, 2016. 
  • "Fulani Militants in Nigeria: Mischaracterization Obscures Threat and Impedes Response." Africa Watch, July 14, 2016. 
  • "Nigeria's Breaking Point." Foreign Affairs. July 19, 2016. 
  • "Why Nigeria’s military make bad aid workers." IRIN. July 5, 2016.
  • "Nigeria's Unbalanced Budget." Foreign Affairs. May 23, 2016. 
  • "Political Violence is as Concerning as Genocide." The Cipher Brief. May 11, 2016
  • "Here’s why so many people join Boko Haram, despite its notorious violence." The Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog. April 26, 2016. 
  • "Bringing Back Chibok Girls Only Start of Nigeria’s Challenge". IPI Global Observatory. April 25, 2016. 
  • "Chibok Girls -- Do We Really Care?" IRIN. March 31, 2016. 
  • "Nigeria must declare total war on Boko Haram." Al Jazeera America. February 19, 2016. 
  • "Amid Oil Crash, Could Farming Offer Nigeria a Lifeline?" IPI Global Observatory. February 11, 2016.
  • "Nigeria’s social media bill follows a trend of African governments keeping tabs on civil society" Quartz. December 9, 2015.
  • "Nigeria's Oil Curse." Al Jazeera America. November 25, 2015. 
  • “Is Burundi Inching Towards War?” IPI Global Observatory. October 21, 2015.
  • "Don’t repeat mistakes against Boko Haram in Cameroon." Al Jazeera America. October 3, 2015. 
  • "Tanzania’s Election Run-Up Suggests Backsliding Away From Democracy." IPI Global Observatory. September 30th. 
  • "Should You Worry About China's Investments in Africa?" Monkey Cage Blog, The Washington Post. September 9, 2015. 
  • "As Nigeria Seeks Security, Are More Weapons Really the Answer?" IPI Global Observatory. August 27, 2015. 
  • "Obama's Africa Trip Was a Missed Opportunity." Al Jazeera America. August 4, 2015. 
  • "Nigeria needs more military reforms to take on Boko Haram—not more weapons." Quartz. July 24, 2015.
  • "Nigeria’s Justice System Needs Reform, Not Expansion." The Global Observatory. July 22, 2015. 
  • “Nigeria’s Buhari Hasn’t Been Able to Curtail Boko Haram’s Deadly Affect – Yet.” Quartz. June 30, 2015.  “After Peace Agreement Development Remains Key to Mali’s Progress.” The Global Observatory. June 30, 2015.
  • "Down but Not Out: How to Fight Back Against Boko Haram's Newest Strategy." Foreign Affairs. June 19, 2015. 
  • “Buhari Must Hold Corrupt Military Officials Accountable.” Al Jazeera America. June 13, 2015.
  • “Responses Fall Short as Violence Displaces More Nigerians.” The Global Observatory. June 11, 2015.
  • “The Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement in Africa is Bound to Disappoint.” Quartz. June 10, 2015.
  • “Electoral Unrest Threatens Burundi’s Nascent Democracy.” The Global Observatory. April 28, 2015.
  • "Looming Challenges in Niger Delta Could Threaten Nigeria’s Election Afterglow." The Global Observatory. April 17, 2015. 
  • "It is Survival of the Fittest Here." Foreign Policy. April 3, 2015. 
  • "To Understand Why West Africa is Finally Teaming up Against Boko Haram, Follow the Money." Quartz. March 24, 2015. 
  • "ISIL and Boko Haram Just Allied -- What's next for Nigeria?" Quartz. March 13, 2015.
  • "US Support for Chad may Destablize Sahel." Al-Jazeera America. March 6, 2015. 
  • "What's Next for Nigeria's Democracy." The Washington Post. February 18, 2015. 
  • "African Union Forces may Exacerbate Boko Haram Threat." Al-Jazeera America. February 7, 2015. 
  • “Boko Haram is Not Al Qaeda.” The Washington Post. January 13, 2015.
  • “The Boko Haram Insurgency By the Numbers.” The Washington Post. October 4, 2014.
  • “Ethiopian Activists Fight US-Backed Land Seizures.” The Nation and Foreign Policy in Focus. September 9, 2014.
  • “Shadow Justice in Nigeria.” Warscapes. June 27, 2014;
  • "Rwanda’s Twenty-Year Transformation." Social Science Research Network African Futures. ​April 28, 2015.
  • “Responsibility Without Capacity.” Warscapes. April 27, 2014;
  • “Orwell in Nairobi.” Warscapes. April 15, 2014.
  • “Kony 2014?” The Atlantic. March 28 2014.
  • “Rwandan Bonsais.” The Nation and Foreign Policy in Focus. January 23, 2014.
  • “Can the Central African Republic’s First Female Leader Fend off Genocide?” The Atlantic. January 24, 2014;
  • “Are We Pivoting to Africa Rather than Asia?” The Atlantic. October 6, 2013;
  • “What does the Nairobi Massacre Mean for Terror in Africa?” The Atlantic. September 25, 2013.

Hilary Matfess

  • ​Academic
  • American Political Science Association 2015 Conference. Panel on Insurgencies in Comparative Perspective. Boko Haram: A Mixed Method's Approach. Presented with the Nigerian Social Violence Project.
  • Futures Without Violence. "Linking the Security of Women and the Security of States." April 27, 2016. 
  • Georgetown African Studies Program "​Origins and Options: Extremism in the Sahel." April 14, 2016. 
  • Policy Oriented
  • Foreign Service Institute Africa Course. "Boko Haram and the Lake Chad Basin." Spring 2016, Fall 2016. 
  • AFRICOM Women Peace and Security Conference. "The Gender Politics of Boko Haram." ​May 2016. 
  • Senate Human Rights Caucus "Boko Haram's Humanitarian Consequences." April 26, 2016
  • Media Appearances
  • The Majority Report With Sam Seder. ​December 7, 2015.
  • PRI "To the Point." ​November 20, 2015. 
  • CTV News. November 20, 2015. 
  • NBC News. April 14, 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/live-video/watch-live-lostgirls-a-look-back-at-nigeria-s-missing-schoolgirls-322484291648
  • World Affairs Council. April 7, 2015. "A Conversation with Ambassador Robin Sanders."
  • Canada AM. ​August 4, 2014. http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=671027&playlistId=1.2500989&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1
  • Canada AM. February 11, 2015. http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?playlistId=1.2230908
  • Straight Talk with Jerry Agar. January 19, 2015.  http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/3998525859001
  • CTV News. January 18, 2015. http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=533371
  • Straight Talk with Jerry Agar. January 15, 2015. http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/search/matfess/boko-haram-a-quiet-radicalization/3991678105001
  • The Maya Akai Show. January 15, 2015.
  • Public Radio International's To the Point. January 14, 2015. 
  • Straight Talk with Jerry Agar. January 12, 2015.  http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/featured/straight-talk-and-hard-news/868018287001/boko-harams-most-deadly-attack/3984919435001
  • CTV News. January 10, 2015. http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=528294 
  • HuffPo Live. January 9, 2015. http://huff.lv/1xMbCsdCTV. 



Research Associate with the Institute for Defense Analyses' Africa Program
2016-2017 Visiting Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University