Jóhanna Kristín Birnir is a Professor in the department of Government and Politics.  Jóhanna studies the effect of identity (ethnicity, religion, gender) on contentious political outcomes (elections and violence), and has done extensive fieldwork in the Andes, South-East Europe and Indonesia.  Jóhanna´s  first book "Ethnic Electoral Politics" (Cambridge University Press) examines the relationship between political access and minority strategic choice of peaceful electoral participation, protest or violence against the state.  Her most recent book (with Nil Satana) "Alternatives in Mobilization: Ethnicity, Religion and Political Conflict" (Cambridge University Press in 2022), examines the relationship between identity (ethnicity and religion) and minority peaceful and violent political mobilization.  Jóhanna´s articles on identity and politics are published in numerous academic journals including PNAS Nexus the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Party Politics, Latin American Research Review , Studies in Comparative International Development, and Journal of Global Security Studies.  Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, Folke Bernadotte Academy and the Global Religion Research Initiative  among others. 

Areas of Interest

  • The politics of identity, especially contentious politics, and elections.


  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Comparative Politics

Jóhanna teaches courses on the Politics of Identity, Conflict and Methods. Including: GVPT201 (Research Methods, (Scholarship in Practice Gen ed.)), GVPT301 (Identity and Conflict, (Gen ed. Cultural Competency)), GVPT888T/F (Political Violence), GVPT831 (Formal Theory), GVPT 888I (Identity Politics).

GVPT201  is supported by DataCamp. Over 100+ courses. R, Python and SQL . A combination of short expert videos and hands-on-the-keyboard exercises.

Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus
GVPT201 Scope and Methods for Political Science Research Fall 2023 Syllabus
GVPT888I Identity Politics Fall 2023 Syllabus
GVPT888I Identity Politics Spring 2022 Syllabus
GVPT888I Identity Politics Fall 2019 Syllabus
GVPT301 Identity and Conflict Spring 2019 Syllabus
GVPT201 Scope and Methods for Political Science Research Fall 2018 Syllabus

Jóhanna´s research focuses on the relationship between identity (ethnicity, religion, gender) and contentious political outcomes (elections and violence), often as mitigated by institutions. Recent research publications include: 


  • Coding with the machines: machine-assisted coding of rare event data. PNAS Nexus, Volume 3, Issue 5, May 2024, page165.

  • Locking Down Violence: The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Non-State Actor Violence, American Political Science Review, January 30, 2023. https://www.doi.org/10.1017/S0003055422001423
Professor Birnir
3117B Chincoteague Hall
Department of Government and Politics
jkbirnir [at] umd.edu
Office Hours
by appointment