About the Expert

Expert Bio

John Campbell is the Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC. He is the author of the new book Nigeria and the Nation-State: Rethinking Diplomacy with the Postcolonial World, published December 2020, and writes the blog Africa in Transition. From 1975 to 2007, Campbell served as a U.S. Department of State Foreign Service officer. He served twice in Nigeria, as political counselor from 1988 to 1990, and as ambassador from 2004 to 2007. Campbell's additional overseas postings include Lyon, Paris, Geneva, and Pretoria. He also served as deputy assistant secretary for human resources, dean of the Foreign Service Institute's School of Language Studies, and director of the Office of UN Political Affairs.

From 2007 to 2008, he was a visiting professor of international relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was also a Department of State mid-career fellow at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Prior to his career in the Foreign Service, he taught British and French history at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. 

Campbell has also written Nigeria: What Everyone Needs to Know, coauthored with Matthew Page and published in July 2018, Morning in South Africa, which came out in May 2016, and Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink, the second edition of which was released in June 2013. He edits both the Nigeria Security Tracker and the Sub-Saharan Security Tracker.

Campbell received a BA and MA in history from the University of Virginia and a PhD in seventeenth-century English history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


  • American Academy of Diplomacy, fellow
  • The Washington Institute for Foreign Affairs, member

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