Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith

Professor of the Practice of African and African American Studies

External Address: 
Ernestine Friedl Building (East Campus), Durham, NC 27708-0257
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90257, Durham, NC 27708-0257
(919) 681-6111


Stephen W. Smith is the Associate Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and also the current Director of Duke’s Center for French and Francophone Studies (CFFS). He has been teaching African Studies at Duke since 2007 and, until 2013 when he became regular rank faculty at Duke, also taught at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. His scholarship focuses on conflict analysis and the “human geography” — the demographics and population age structure — of contemporary Africa.
He holds a Ph.D. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Political Science and History from Berlin’s Free University and a M.A. in Anthropology from the Sorbonne in Paris. Prior to his return to academia, he was the Africa Editor of the French newspapers Libération (1988-2000) and Le Monde (2000-2005). As a correspondent based in Africa, he worked for Reuters and Radio France International (RFI). He is the (co-)author of seventeen monographs on Africa, among them books on France’s postcolonial presence in sub-Saharan Africa, a bestselling essay on post-Cold War Africa, biographies of Winnie Mandela, the Central-African Emperor Bokassa and the Moroccan General Oufkir. His latest book, written both in French (La ruée vers l’Europe, February 2018) and English (The Scramble for Europe, April 2019), has been translated into German, Spanish and Italian.
He also authored country reports for the International Crisis Group (ICG) and coordinated the launch of the first Pan-African TV network in English and French, Africanews, in May 2016. He worked as an analyst for the United Nations and as a historical consultant for the film industry. He contributes to The London Review of Books.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D. (summa cum laude), Free University Berlin (Germany), 1984
    M.A. (with high honors), Panthéon 1- Sorbonne (France), 1982
    B.A. (with high honors), Free University Berlin (Germany), 1978

Carayannis, T, and Lombard, L. Making Sense of the Central African Republic.: Zed Books, July 9, 2015.

GLASER, A, and SMITH, SW. Sarko en Afrique. Plon, January 13, 2011.

Smith, S. Voyage en postcolonie. Grasset & Fasquelle, 2010.

Smith, S, and Faes, S. Noirs et Français ! (Black and French !). Paris: Panama, 2006.

Smith, S, and Glaser, A. Comment la France a perdu l'Afrique. Calmann-Lévy, May 18, 2005.

Smith, S. Négrologie. Calmann-Lévy, October 22, 2003.

Smith, S. Sur le fleuve Congo (On the Congo River). Paris: Actes Sud, 2003.

Smith, S, and Faes, G. Bokassa Ier un empereur français. Calmann-Lévy, March 29, 2000.


Smith, SW. "France in Africa: A New Chapter?." CURRENT HISTORY 112.754 (May 2013): 163-168.

Smith, S. "Behind France’s Foray into Mali." Current History, A Journal of Contemporary World Affairs (May 2013): 163-169.

Smith, SW. "Sudan: In a Procrustean Bed with Crisis." International Negotiation 16.1 (January 1, 2011): 169-189. Full Text

Smith, S, and Faes, G. "République centrafricaine : la solitude et le chaos." Politique Internationale 88 (2000).

Smith, S. "Paris vs. Washington." LIMES. Revue française de Géopolitique 3 (1997): 53-66.

Smith, S. "France-Afrique : la fin d’une époque." Politique Internationale 67 (1994): 265-282.

Smith, S. "Afrique noire: le duel Washington-Paris." Politique Internationale 63 (1994).

Smith, S. "Continent noir : la technique du « suicide national »." Politique Internationale 58 (1992).