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Title: Stationary and roving banditry : an alternative historical perspective on the Liberian conflict
Author: Atkinson, Philippa
ISNI:       0000 0004 2716 6676
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the historical evolution of the Liberian conflict of 1990-2003, analysing the reasons for its initiation, prolongation, and eventual resolution. It aims to offer an alternative perspective to the focus of much existing literature on the failures of the country's successive governments, by exploring in detail the development processes and external factors which also shaped this protracted political crisis. It draws on extensive and in-depth field research in Liberia conducted over a number of years, as well as on the secondary literature, primary economic data and 'virtual' sources. The thesis uses the concept of a continuum to model the country's trajectory from the development and nation-building of the modem Americo-Liberian state of the 1950s- 70s, to the predation and violence of the Doe regime of the 1980s, which then deepened further during the conflict under various warlords including Charles Taylor, before returning to development under the current government. The application of this continuum facilitates a clear distinction between the developmental strategies of the Americo-Liberians, characterised here as stationary bandits whose self-interest was moderated by a longer-term perspective, and the far more degenerative approach of the roving bandits who succeeded them, whose pursuit of varying degrees of predation reflected a shorter-term and purer self-interest. This differentiation promotes understanding of the role of the ambiguities of the transformative development processes generated by the stationary banditry of the Americo-Liberians in the initiation of the crisis, as well as the contribution to its prolongation of the relatively milder form of roving banditry practised by Taylor as compared to the other warlords. While the type of banditry adopted by the various regimes reflects primarily internal dynamics including historical and ethnic factors, analysis of movement along the continuum highlights the instrumental role of external factors in determining shifts from one type to another, including the global recession of the 1970s, the US relationship with the Doe regime during the Cold War, and the regional and international interventions during the conflict. The thesis maintains that despite the counter-productive impact of their earlier involvement, external actors contributed significantly to the eventual resolution of the conflict and the sustainability of the subsequent peace process, in a rare but potentially important example of an effective international intervention.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available