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Laura Thaut Vinson presents lecture on Ethnic and Religious Violence in Nigeria at Whitworth University, April 7

March 21, 2016
Whitworth University welcomes  Whitworth alumna and assistant professor of political science at Oklahoma State University Laura Thaut Vinson, Ph.D., to campus for a lecture, “When Religion Becomes a Source of Violence: Insights from Muslim-Christian Communal Violence in Northern Nigeria.” The lecture will be held on Thursday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Weyerhaeuser Hall’s Robinson Teaching Theatre. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-3834.

Vinson graduated from Whitworth in 2005 with a double major in political studies and international studies. She currently teaches courses in comparative politics and international relations, and her research interests are in the areas of ethnic conflict, the politics of global religious change (particularly with the spread of Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity), African politics, and humanitarianism.

Vinson has conducted fieldwork in Nigeria and Kenya, and her lecture will draw from her extensive fieldwork on religious identity and communal violence in Nigeria. She is currently working on a manuscript, based on her fieldwork in Nigeria, that examines the role of informal, local-government power-sharing institutions in shaping religious identity and determining whether it becomes a fault line of communal violence. Her research has been published in multiple peer-level publications.

 “Laura Thaut [Vinson] is a rising star in the field of political science and African studies,” says Whitworth Political Science Professor Emeritus John Yoder. Yoder taught Vinson during her undergraduate years at Whitworth. “Her field research in Nigeria, conducted in challenging circumstances, is groundbreaking,” Yoder says. “For someone so recently out of grad school, she has a remarkable publication record.  In addition to articles and book chapters, she is the author of a forthcoming book on ethnic and interreligious violence in Nigeria.  The work will be published by Cambridge University Press in its prestigious African Studies Series. While people all over the world have a heightened fear of terrorism and religious conflict, our understanding of these things is very limited.  Dr. Vinson has an ability to explain the deep roots of the problem in a way that goes far beyond the simplistic answers we so often hear.  I very much look forward to her lecture.”

This lecture was made possible through a fund created to celebrate Yoder’s Whitworth career (1988-2015) and his dedication to the study of Africa.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Stephanee Newman, program assistant in political science and sociology, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3834 or

Lauren Clark, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or