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School of Government, Development and International Affairs


Assoc. Prof Virginia Q Tilley

Director, Postgraduate Studies in Governance 

Virginia's field is the comparative study of racial and ethnic conflict, the politics of development and ideologies of nation-building. She comes to USP from six years of service at the Democracy and Governance Program of the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, where she conducted research for the government and international actors on democratisation, nation reconciliation and anti-poverty development strategies. Previously, she served as Associate Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, where she taught courses in comparative politics, international relations, Middle East and Latin American politics and the politics of development. Her present research continues to focus on ethnic conflict and the politics of settler colonialism and indigeneity. Her publications include three books and many articles, papers and policy briefs on racial and ethnic conflict, the politics of development, and the interplay of domestic nation-building with conditions generated by the the international system. Her research has been supported by the Boehm Foundation, the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation, the Foundation for Human Rights (South Africa), and the South African Department of Foreign Affairs. 

Governance Program
School of Government, Development and International Affairs
University of the South Pacific, Laucala Bay Campus, Suva, Fiji Islands

Office: (+679) 323 2044
Fax (679) 323 1506
Email: tilley_v(at)


Academic Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Antioch College)
  • Master of Arts (Georgetown University, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies) 
  • Master of Arts in Political Science (U of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • PhD (U of Wisconsin-Madison)

Research Interests

  • Politics of race and ethnicity, nation-building and conflict
  • International identity politics, constructivist theories of the international system
  • Comparative politics of development and poverty
  • Politics of less-developed regions: esp. Middle East, Latin America, Africa

Recent Publications


Articles and Book Chapters

  • 2013. ‘Theorising Sovereignty and Indigeneity in South Africa and Israel-Palestine’. In Ilan Pappé, ed., Peoples Apart: Israel, South Africa and the Apartheid Question. I.B. Taurus (forthcoming)
  • 2012. ‘The Deeper Politics of Israeli Settlements.’ In Hani Faris (ed.), One State for Palestine/Israel: A Country for All Its Citizens. Routledge Press. 
  • 2011. ‘The Challenge of Researching Social Cohesion in South Africa’. Commissioned as theoretical framework on project for European Union project on social cohesion: Project leader, Jare Struwig. Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa.
  • 2010.  Co-author with Democracy and Governance Programme . ‘Social Cohesion and Nation-building in South Africa: the Impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.’ Commissioned by the Ministry of Sports and Recreation from the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa.
  • 2010. Project leader (final stage). Tsireledzani: Understanding the Dimensions of Human Trafficking in Southern Africa.  Programme of Assistance to the South African Government to Prevent, React to Human Trafficking. Commissioned by the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa (March) from the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. 225 pages.
  • 2010. ‘The Real Message of the ‘Developmental State”’.    HSRC Review Vol. 8. No. 22 (August)
  • 2010. ‘A Palestinian Declaration of Independence: Implications for Peace.’ Middle East Policy Vol. 17, No. 1, March
  • 2009. Editor and co-author. A Reassessment of Israeli Practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories under International Law Commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs, 302 pages.
  • 2008. Why is Peace So Hard to Find? ‘Final Status’ Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Commissioned by the Department of the Foreign Affairs and the South African Parliament
  • 2007. ‘Smoke and Mirrors?’ In Aslam Farouk, ed., The Future of Palestine and Israel. Institute for Global Dialogue.
  • 2006. ‘Building “Revolving Door” Relationships between the Public Service, the Universities, and the Private Sector.’ Commissioned by the Department of Public Service from the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa from the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa.
  • 2006. ‘Definition of the Tourism “Second Economy”’ [on rural poverty alleviation]. Commissioned by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism from the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa.
  • 2006. With the research team from the Urban and Rural Economic Development Programme. ‘Successes and Challenges in Pro-Poor Tourism: New Models, Better Results’. Commissioned by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism from the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa.
  • 2006. ‘The Secular Solution: Debating Israel-Palestine.’ New Left Review 38, Mar-April
  • 2005. ‘Strategic Maneuvers in Racial Politics: Mestizaje and the “Ethnicization” of Race’. In Paul Spickard (ed.) Race and Nation, Identity and Power: Ethnic Systems around the World. Routledge Press
  • 2005. ‘The Challenge to South Africa’s Foreign Policy.’ Policy: Issues and Actors, Vol. 18, No. 8. (Centre for Policy Studies, Johanessburg)
  • 2005. ‘International Norms and the Two-State Solution.’ Arab World Geographer’s Forum/Le géographe du monde arabe, Vol. 8 No. 3 (2005)
  • 2003. ‘The One-State Solution.’ London Review of Books, Vol. 25, No. 21, 6 November
  • 2002. ‘The Generation of Ethnic Conflict by the International System’. In Cris Toffolo, ed., Emancipating Cultural Pluralism, SUNY Press, 2002
  • 2002. ‘New Help or New Hegemony? The Transnational Indigenous Peoples Movement and ‘Being Indian’ in El Salvador.’ Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 34, no. 3
  • 2002. ‘The International Construction of Domestic Ethnic Conflict: The Modern State and Indigenous Peoples’. In Dan Green, ed., Studies in Constructivist Comparative Politics, M.E. Sharpe
  • 1998. ‘Indians, the Military and the 1932 Rebellion in El Salvador.’ Journal of Latin American Studies Vol. 30 (January) (with Erik Ching). NOTE: Received the 1999 Annual Prize as Best Article from the Congress on Latin American History.
  • 1997. ‘Terms of the Debate: Untangling Language on Ethnicity and Ethnic Movements’. Ethnic and Racial Studies Vol. 20 No. 3 (July)
  • 1996. ‘Post-Confucianism: The Culturalist Approach to Understanding the East Asian NICs,’ Asian Thought and Society: An International Review, Vol. 21 No. 61 

Recent Conference Papers and Presentations

  • 2013 - 'Bringing the Nation Back In: Developing a Collaborative Research Agenda on Nation- and State-building in the Pacific.' PNG Symposium: Leadership for the Next Generation. Deakin University (Geelong, Australia)
  • 2012 - 'Social Cohesion: The Concept and Its Discontents'. Centre for Citizenship and Globalization, Deakin University (Melbourne)
  • 2011 - “Dilemmas of Governance in the 21st Century: Re-conceiving the Nation-state,” University of the South Pacific, School of Government, Development and International Affairs (Suva, Fiji), 3 May 
  • 2011 - “Race and Nation around the World”, University of the Western Cape, Political Science Seminar Series (Cape Town), February 2011. 
  • 2010 - “Social Cohesion and Sport Mega-events: Critical Perspectives on FIFA 2010” Conference Paper: International Sport and Development – Beyond 2010. Centre for Sport Excellence, University of the Western Cape. 
  • 2010 - “'Saddam Palace Syndrome and Other Discontents in Rural Tourism Development," NGO Week 2010. Foundation for Human Rights, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (RSA); Institut für Zusammenarbeit des Deutchen Volkschochschul-Verbandes, South African NGO Coalition of the Western Cape — Cape Town, 23 September 
  • “Memory as Landscape in South Africa and Israel-Palestine: Names and renaming as a mode of nation-building," Conference: Ethno-Politics in a Globalised World, Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, University of Exeter (UK), 27-30 June 2010. 
  • 2009 - “International Human Rights and Post-Apartheid Africa," Foreign Policy and Human Rights Colloquium, School of Law, University of Cape Town 
  • 2009 - “A Homologous Case? Or, Does the Shoe Fit? Race, identity, domination in South Africa and Israel-Palestine”School for Oriental and African Studies — University of London.
  • 2008 - 'Sovereignty and Settler Colonialism.' Seminar Series, Department of History, University of the Western Cape

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