Susanne D. Mueller has spent most of her adult life in Africa, as an academic and doing international development work for the World Bank and various UN agencies. After graduating from Smith College, she obtained a M.A. in political science at the University of Pennsylvania, and a second M.A. and a Ph.D. in political science at Princeton University. She has done field work for donor agencies in most of the countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, as well as in India, the Maldives, Ukraine and Moldova. She has worked on development projects and policies in agriculture, rural finance, public sector management, political economy, and rural poverty.
In 2008, in Kenya, Susanne worked with the Waki Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence (CIPEV), and authored an article, “ The Political Economy of Kenya’s Crisis,” that won the Best Paper Award from the African Politics Conference Group (APCG). She also has authored numerous other academic articles and policy papers on various aspects of political and economic development.
In addition to her field work, she has taught at Princeton and the University of Nairobi and has held research appointments at Princeton, Boston University, and Harvard, most recently at the W.E. B. Du Bois Institute.
In her entry in her class’s 50th reunion scrapbook, Susanne wrote:
“So far, my life has been a series of extraordinary moments with lots of incredible stories to go with them. I do remember once interviewing a woman in a literacy group in rural Malawi. Just out of curiosity I asked her why she had joined. She said her husband was carrying around a letter from his lover in his back pocket and she wanted to be able to read it. It reminded me how much alike we are all. That was one special moment but there have been lots of others: being tear gassed by the government when I was on a dias with members of the opposition party in Kenya I was planning to interview in 1969, but couldn’t because they were arrested and put in preventive detention; flying over the headwaters of the Nile in a single-engine plane in Southern Sudan; asking a Kenyan politician why he thought he had not been killed in 1972, and then he was, in 1975;being told by an official at the Economics Community for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa that they didn’t have any work on women, with my answering that what a happy coincidence as neither did my c.v.”
“I don’ t have any wise words or insights for future generations. The world is easier for women now than it was when I was one of 10 graduate women across all departments at Princeton, but it is still rough.”