Lynn M. Tesser, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of International Relations
Command and Staff College

Contact Information

Phone: (703) 432-6290
Areas of Interest: State-making and International Order, Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict, Forced Migration and Nation-Building, Ethnographic Approaches to Security Studies, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Balkans Politics and Security, European Politics and Security


Ph.D. Political Science, University of Chicago
M.A. Political Science, University of Chicago
B.A. Political Science, Reed College


Dr. Tesser is an Associate Professor of International Relations with expertise at the intersection of comparative politics, international relations, and history. Her early research analyzed the impact of international institutions' efforts to advance a cosmopolitan variant of liberalism in East-Central European societies lacking broad support for all liberal and border-effacing reforms required for joining the European Union. Fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright Commission, and the MacArthur and Mellon Foundations, among others, funded this research. Her first book Ethnic Cleansing and the European Union (Palgrave 2013) explains why EU enlargement may intensify nationalist politics. 

Prof. Tesser’s second book brings the vast body of recent historiography on modern empires to studies of nationalism, state proliferation, and international order to offer a fresh look at why nation-states eventually replaced empires. Rethinking the End of Empire (Stanford 2024) recovers the historical context–including the political, cultural, and socio-economic environment, and key actors’ self-understandings–during prominent pre-independence periods in the Americas, Balkans, Anatolia, Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa overlooked in multi-case studies. Nuanced historiography shows that nationalism often existed more in the perceptions of external observers than of local activists and insurgents.

During her career, Prof. Tesser has been affiliated with universities in Poland, Germany, Finland, Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, and the U.S. She was a Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute (2019), a Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki’s Aleksanteri Institute for Russian and Eastern European Studies (2011), and an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the International University of Sarajevo (2008-10) as well as at the American University, Girne-Cyprus (2011-12). Dr. Tesser also taught at American University’s School of International Service (2004-05) and Loyola University Chicago (2003-04) after serving as a SSRC Berlin Program Fellow at the Free University of Berlin (2001-02), a non-resident Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of World Politics (2001-02), a CASPIC MacArthur Fellow at the University of Chicago (2000-01), a DDRA Fulbright Scholar at Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz University (1999-2000), and won a Grodzins Prize Lectureship at the University of Chicago (2002).

In 2008, Prof. Tesser contributed to an evaluation of the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System embedding social scientists with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. She has also served as a Program Officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace (2006-07), a Research Associate at the Center for American Progress (2006), and was a Research Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2004).


Selected Publications



Rethinking the End of Empire:  Nationalism, State Formation and Great Power Politics, Stanford University Press, May 2024

Ethnic Cleansing and the European Union:  An Interdisciplinary Approach to Security, Memory, and Ethnography (in the series on Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies) Palgrave Macmillan, May 2013


Refereed Articles in International Journals


“Identity, Contingency, and Interaction:  Historical Research and Social Science Analysis of Nation-State Proliferation,” Nationalities Papers 47 (3) (2019): 412-428

“Ethnic Hierarchies and the Shifting EU Schengen Border in the Post-Cold War Era,” Epiphany, Vol. 6, No. 2 (2013): 183-204

“Exporting EU Liberalism Eastwards,”Epiphany, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2009): 1-21

“East-Central Europe’s New Security Concern: Foreign Land Ownership,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 37 (2004): 213-239

“The Geopolitics of Tolerance: Minority Rights Under EU Expansion in East-Central Europe,” East European Politics and Societies, Vol. 17, No. 3 (2003): 483-532

“European Integration and the Legacy of the Post-Second World War German Expulsions in East-Central Europe,” Geopolitics, Vol. 4, No. 3 (1999): 91-119


Additional Publications


“Europe’s Pivotal Peace Projects: Ethnic Separation and European Integration,” Report from the Swedish Institute of European Policy Studies (2015). PDF

“Prospects for a Successful Peace Process in Nepal: Internal and International Perspectives,” USIPeace Briefing, U.S. Institute of Peace (2007).

Review of The Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Frank Schimmelfennig and Ulrich Sedelmeier (Cornell University Press, 2005), Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 58, No. 2 (2006): 311-312


Fellowships and Awards

University of Helsinki’s Aleksanteri Institute for Russian and Eastern European Studies Fellowship (2011)
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Research Grant (2004, 2007)
University of Chicago Grodzins Prize Lectureship (2002)
SSRC Berlin Program Dissertation Fellowship (2001-2002)
ACLS East European Studies Program Dissertation Fellowship (2001-2002) (declined)
Institute for the Study of World Politics Dissertation Fellowship (2001-2002)
Council for the Advanced Study of Peace and International Cooperation Dissertation Fellowship (MacArthur Foundation) (2000-2001)
Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship (1999-2000)
Fulbright IIE/USIA Fellowship (1999-2000) (declined)
Andrew W. Mellon ‘First Year’ Dissertation Fellowship (1998)
German Academic Exchange Service Scholarship (1997)
Foreign Language Enhancement Program Scholarship (1997)
University of Chicago Fellowship (1995-1999)




Marine Corps University