Abdi I Samatar

Contact Me


414 Soc Sci

267 19th Avenue South

My research focuses on the relationship between democracy and development in the Third World in general and Africa in particular. At the moment, I am looking at the the link between democratic leadership, public institutions, and development in East and South Africa. Other themes in my research include Islam, social capital and ethnicity in the Horn of Africa, and environment and development. Finally, a general thread in my research is how national public institutions enable people in develping countries tap opportunity in the global capitalist economy and avoid its cruel traps.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: University of California, Berkeley, CA, 1985.
  • MCRP: Urban/Regional Planning, Iowa State University, 1981.
  • A.B.: University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, 1979.


  • development theory and the state
  • capitalist development
  • environment and development
  • political economy
  • agrarian change
  • Ethnic politics
  • East and Southern Africa
  • Third World
  • Islamic world
  • Botswana
  • Somalia
  • Ethiopia
Courses Taught
  • Geog 3145 - Geography of the Islamic World
  • Geog 3358 - Southern Africa: Beyond Apartheid
  • Geog 3379 - Environment and Development in the Third World
  • Geog 5385 - Globalization and Development: A Political Economy Approach
  • Geog 8302 - Research Development
  • Geog 8302: Proposal Writing
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Chair, Department of Geography: 2008-
  • Director of Graduate Studies: 2005 - 2008
  • Editorial Board, African Geographic Review Journal:
  • Editorial Board, Bildan: Somali Studies Journal:
  • Member, Board of Directors of African Studies Association: 2002 - 2004
  • Committee member, MacArthur Compton Fellowships:
  • Graduate Education Policy:


  • BBC World Service: February 2011
  • Al Jazeera: Interview, June, July 2010
  • Al Jazeera, Interview: April 9, 2007
  • Al Jazeera, interview: July 9, 2006
  • PBS/NewsHour, Interview: Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts and the USA, May 6, 2006
  • BBC, Interview, June 7, 2006: Developments in Somalia,
  • Radio France International, Interview: Union of Islamic Court/Somalia/Terrorism, May 5, 2006
  • Australian Broadcasting Service, Interview: Somalia, Islam, and Terrorism, June 19, 2006
  • TV Channel 5: Interview: October 2002
  • Voice of America. TV Journal on Africa. Interview.: September 13, 2002
  • Somali TV Minneapolis. Interview: Eldoret Reconciliation Conference: November 17, 2002
  • BBC Somali Service. Interview: History of Reconciliation in Somalia: June 28, 2002
  • Chair, Harmonization Committee of the Somali Charter: Somali Reconciliation - Independent Committee, Spring 2003
  • Africa's First Democrats: Somalia's Aden A. Osman & Abdirazak H. Hussen. Samatar, Abdi, University of Indiana Press, Author, 2016.
  • Fate Worse than Artificial Political Borders : Samatar, Abdi, South African Geographical Journal, 2019.
  • The Dialectics of Piracy in Somalia: the Poor versus the Rich: Samatar, Abdi, Third World Quarterly, December 2010.
  • Faithless Power as Fraticide: Is there an Alternative in Somalia?: Samatar, Abdi, International Journal of Somali Studies, 9 63-81, 2009.
  • The African State: Reconsideration. Samatar, Abdi, Ahmed Samatar, Co-Editor, 2002.
  • An African Miracle: State and Class Leadership and Colonial Legacy in Botswana. Samatar, Abdi, Heinemann, 1999.
  • Back to the Future: Samatar, Abdi, BBC Focus on Africa Magazine, July-September 34-5, 2008.
  • Debating Somali Identity in a British Tribunal: The BBC Somali Service. Samatar, Abdi, Author, 2007.
  • The Islamic Courts and the Mogadishu Miracle: What comes Next for Somalia: Samatar, Abdi, Review of African political Economy, Fall 2006 .
  • The Ethiopian Election of 2005: A Bombshell & Turning Point: Samatar, Abdi, Review of African Political Economy, 104/5 , 2005.
  • Ethiopian Federalism: Autonomy versus Control in the Somali Region. Samatar, Abdi, Author, 2004.
  • Editoral of Somali Reconciliation. Samatar, Abdi, Ahmed Samatar, 2003.
  • Somalis as Africa's First Democrats. Samatar, Abdi, Ahmed Samatar, 2002.
  • Local Initiatives and Somali Reconstruction. Samatar, Abdi, 2001.
  • Social Transformation and Islamic Reinterpretation in Northern Somalia: The Women's Mosque in Gabiley. Samatar, Abdi, 2000.
  • Ethnicity and leadership in the making of African state models: Botswana versus Somalia. Samatar, Abdi, 1997.
  • University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Service Award, 2004
  • Finalist, Herskovits Award of the African Studies Association for "An African Miracle.", 2000
  • Fulbright Scholar Award, 1993/4 and 1999
  • Design Achievement Award in recognition for substantial contribution to the field of Community and Regional Planning, Iowa State University, October 20, 2000
  • Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Teaching and Leadership in Community-University Collaboration, University of Minnesota, 1997
  • Collegiate Teaching Award, University of Iowa 1989-90