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Kristen Kao


Department of Political
Visiting address
Sprängkullsgatan 19
41123 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 711
40530 Göteborg

About Kristen Kao

Kristen Kao is a Senior Research Fellow with the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) at the University of Gothenburg. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

She first traveled to the Middle East on a Fulbright grant to Egypt in 2006. Since then, she has spent summers in Oman, Syria, Tunisia, and Kuwait as well as more than three years in Jordan during which she gained proficiency in Arabic. She has served as a program consultant and election monitor for a variety of international organizations including The Carter Center, Freedom House, and the National Democratic Institute. In 2014, she ran a nationwide survey in Jordan in collaboration with Ellen Lust and Lindsay Benstead funded by the GLD program at Yale University.

Kristen’s broader research interestsinclude the study of vote buying and clientelism, social identity politics, post-conflict reconciliation, survey methodology, experimental design, politics of the Middle East and North Africa, traditional governance, and voter behavior. Most recently, she has won grants to carry out work on the reconciliation with and reintegration of former Islamic State collaborators as well as a comparative study on the integration of forced migrants from Syria into Turkish, Jordanian, and Swedish societies.

Her research has received funding from the Swedish Research Council, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the American Center of Oriental Research, the National Security Education Program, and the Project on Middle East Political Science, among others. With the GLD program at the University of Gothenburg Kristen helps manage the fielding of surveys, including one carried out in Malawi (N=7,500) in 2016 and three others in Kenya, Zambia, and Malawi in 2019 (N=25,000), as well as organize and analyze the resulting data for publication in reports and academic papers. She has published in Comparative Politics, Survey Practice, and The Washington Post among others.

Please see her CV for more information.