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Title: The Origins of African Civil-Military Relations: Ethnic Armies and the Development of Coup Traps
Authors: Harkness, Kristen Angela
Advisors: Widner, Jennifer
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: civil-military relations
ethnic politics
military history
Subjects: Political Science
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Military coups have posed a persistent threat to political stability in Africa---undermining democratization efforts, initiating lasting cycles of intra-military violence, and even descending into civil war. Since decolonization, over 200 coup attempts have been made across the continent. This dissertation seeks to understand what causes African militaries to intervene so frequently in the domestic politics of their societies? How did certain countries (but not others) get functionally stuck in coup traps? At the time of independence, military institutions were in a state of deep transformation and new African leaders faced an important choice over how they would tie soldiers to the state. This critical juncture set countries on different paths of institutional development---some stable and reinforced through self-perpetuating mechanisms and others unstable, prone to extreme backlash processes of instability. Where leaders chose to build military loyalty on ethnic foundations---where they conditioned recruitment, promotion, and access to patronage on shared identity---they tended to set their countries on dangerous paths of violence. To choose broadly inclusive military recruitment (civic-nationalism), on the other hand, led to greater stability on average, but was still dangerous in highly ethnically politicized contexts. These theoretical claims are evaluated with both cross-national statistical analysis and case study evidence. Both duration and count models find that countries predicted to travel stable paths survive longer coup free following independence (9.4-12.4 years longer) and experience less coup attempts overall (2.7-3.5 fewer in the 20 years following decolonization). Paired comparisons---Sierra Leone and Cameroon for ethnic loyalty and Ghana and Senegal for civic-national loyalty---were then employed to further test the key theoretical differences between paths as well as to trace the causal mechanisms of each. Finally, the dissertation examines how these historical legacies have impacted democratization efforts in contemporary Africa. Where former leaders built ethnic armies, elections threaten to bring to executive office new leaders from different ethnic groups. When this occurs, the ethnically stacked officer corps has good reason to fear the loss of their privilege through military restructuring---and often reacts by seizing power.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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