Fotini Christia | People

Fotini Christia
Professor of Political Science


Fotini Christia joined the MIT faculty in 2008 upon graduating with a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University. She was an Andrew Carnegie inaugural fellow and a Harvard Academy fellow. Christia has done extensive experimental, survey and ethnographic fieldwork on conflict, identity, and development in divided societies in the Muslim world. She is presently working on projects around computation and conflict on sectarianism in Iraq, refugee return in Syria and violence and displacement in Yemen. Fotini is the author of Alliance Formation in Civil War, published by Cambridge University Press in 2012, which received the Luebbert Award for Best Book in Comparative Politics, the Lepgold Prize for Best Book in International Relations and the Distinguished Book Award of the Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Section of the International Studies Association. Her articles have been published in Science, the Review of Economic Studies, American Political Science Review, Journal of Development Economics, and Annual Review of Political Science, among other journals. Her opinion pieces have appeared in venues such as Foreign Affairs, The New York Times and The Washington Post. For her research, Fotini has received support from the World Bank, USAID,  the UN’s World Food Program and the World Bank, among other funders. She graduated magna cum laude with a joint BA in Economics-Operations Research from Columbia College and a Masters in International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.




Publications|Selected Publications

Fotini Christia, "Training the Covid-19 Cohort," Social Science Research Council, July 30, 2020. With Chappell Lawson.

Fotini Christia, "Navigating Data Collection in War Zones," in An Unorthodox Guide to Fieldwork, eds. Peter Krause and Ora Szekely, Columbia University Press 2020.

Fotini Christia, "Assessing Syrian Refugee Integration Using Call Detail Records from Turkey" in Guide to Mobile Data Analytics in Refugee Scenarios, eds. Salah, Pentland, Lepri, Letouze, Vinck, de Montjoye and Dong, Springer 2019. (With Tugba Bozcaga, Constantinos Daskalakis, Elizabeth Harwood, and Christos Papadimitriou).

Fotini Christia, "Tehran Paints Over its Anti-American Murals," Foreign Policy, November 11, 2019.

Fotini Christia, “Even Conservative Iranians Want Closer Ties to the United States,” Foreign Policy, May 23, 2019 (with Elizabeth Dekeyser and Dean Knox).

Fotini Christia, "The Geography of Gulenism in Turkey," Foreign Policy, March 18, 2019 (with Tugba Bozcaga).

"Decentralization in Post-Conflict Settings: Assessing Community-Driven Development in the Wake of Violence," Decentralized Governance and Accountability: Academic Research and the Future of Donor Programming, eds. Jonathan Rodden and Erik Wibbels, Cambridge University. (February 2019)

Fotini Christia, “State Capacity Redux: Integrating Classical and Experimental Contributions to an Enduring Debate,” Annual Review of Political Science (ARPS), Vol.21, 2018 (with Elissa Berwick).

Fotini Christia, “Direct Democracy and Resource Allocation: Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan,” Journal of Development Economics (JDE), Vol.124, January 2017, pp.199-213 (with Andrew Beath and Ruben Enikolopov).

Fotini Christia, Elizabeth Dekeyser, and Dean Knox, "To Karbala: Surveying Religious Shi'a from Iran and Iraq," October 20, 2016.

Fotini Christia, "The National Solidarity Program: Assessing the Effects of Community-Driven Development in Afghanistan", International Peacekeeping. 22 (4): 302-320. Special Issue: Development Assistance for Peacebuilding. (With Andrew Beath and Ruben Enikolopov), August 2015.

Fotini Christia, Andrew Beath, and Ruben Enikolopov, "Empowering Women through Development Aid: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," American Political Science Review, August 2013: Vol., 107, No. 3, pp. 540-557.

Fotini Christia and Marc Alexander, "Context Modularity of Human Altruism," Science, 9 December 2011: Vol. 334, No. 6061, pp. 1392-1394.

Fotini Christia, Stephen Biddle, and Alexander Their, "Defining Success in Afghanistan: What Can the US Accept?" Foreign Affairs, July/August 2010

Fotini Christia and Michael Semple, "Flipping the Taliban: How to Win in Afghanistan," Foreign Affairs, July/August, 2009



Fotini Christia was an invited commentator in Foreign AffairsAsk the Experts: Is Washington Right to Leave Afghanistan?” June 22, 2021.

"3 Questions: Artificial intelligence for health care equity," MIT News, March 23, 2021. (With Regina Barzilay and Collin Stultz.)

Podcast: "AI, data science and society with Constantinos Daskalakis & Fotini Christia," Hellenic Innovation Network, March 12, 2021.

"3 questions with Fotini Christia, the new chair of the Social & Engineering Systems PhD program," IDSS, October 23, 2020.

"Fotini Christia named director of the Sociotechnical Systems Research Center," MIT News, October 14, 2020.