photo: Sean Roberts

Sean R. Roberts

Associate Professor of the Practice of International Affairs; Director, International Development Studies Program
Suite 501 G
Address: Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, N.W.
Phone: 202-994-7739
Fax: 202-994-5477

Areas of Expertise

Development theory, democracy development, media and development, culture and politics, indigenous rights, Central Asia, former Soviet Union, and China


Joining the Elliott School in 2008 as the Director of the International Development Studies program, Sean Roberts is a cultural anthropologist with extensive applied experience in international development work.

Having conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the Uyghur people of Central Asia and China during the 1990s, he has published extensively on this community in scholarly journals and collected volumes. In addition, he produced a documentary film on the community entitled Waiting for Uighurstan (1996).

From 1998 to 2000 and 2002 to 2006, he worked at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Central Asia on democracy and governance programs, designing and managing projects in civil society development, political party assistance, community development, independent media strengthening, and electoral assistance.

From 2006 to 2008, Dr. Roberts was a post-doctoral fellow in Central Asian Affairs at Georgetown University. At the same time, he continued to work on development projects for a variety of NGOs and served as a Senior Program Officer at the Center for Civil Society and Governance at the Academy for Educational Development where he managed a peace-building project in Darfur, Sudan and an anti-corruption project in Moldova.

His present research is focused on China's development of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as well as on democracy development in former Soviet Central Asia. Roberts continues his applied work on the design and evaluation of democracy and governance projects in the former Soviet Union, most recently in Ukraine where he worked on a USAID project to support decentralization and anti-corruption.


Ph.D., University of Southern California