Ethnic Politics and State Power in Africa: The Logic of the Coup-Civil War Trap

Ethnic Politics and State Power in Africa: The Logic of the Coup-Civil War Trap

By: Philip Roessler (author)Paperback

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Why are some African countries trapped in vicious cycles of ethnic exclusion and civil war, while others experience relative peace? In this groundbreaking book, Philip Roessler addresses this question. Roessler models Africa's weak, ethnically-divided states as confronting rulers with a coup-civil war trap - sharing power with ethnic rivals is necessary to underwrite societal peace and prevent civil war, but increases rivals' capabilities to seize sovereign power in a coup d'etat. How rulers respond to this strategic trade-off is shown to be a function of their country's ethnic geography and the distribution of threat capabilities it produces. Moving between in-depth case studies of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo based on years of field work and statistical analyses of powersharing, coups and civil war across sub-Saharan Africa, the book serves as an exemplar of the benefits of mixed methods research for theory-building and testing in comparative politics.

About Author

Philip Roessler is an Assistant Professor of Government and Director of the Center for African Development at the College of William and Mary, Virginia. He is an expert on conflict, state building, and development in sub-Saharan Africa with extensive field experience across the region. His book builds on his 2011 World Politics article, 'The Enemy Within', which won the Gregory Luebbert Award from the American Political Science Association for the best article in comparative politics. He is also author of Why Comrades Go to War: Liberation Politics and the Outbreak of Africa's Deadliest Conflict (with Harry Verhoeven, forthcoming).


Part I. Motivation and Central Argument: 1. Introduction; Part II. Puzzle and Theory: 2. A meso-level approach to the study of civil war; 3. Theories of ethno-political exclusion; 4. The strategic logic of war in Africa; Part III. Theory-Building Case Study: 5. Political networks, brokerage and cooperative counterinsurgency: civil war averted in Darfur; 6. The strategic logic of ethno-political exclusion: the breakdown of Sudan's Islamic movement; 7. Political exclusion and civil war: the outbreak of the Darfur civil war; Part IV. Testing the Argument: 8. Empirical analysis of the coup-civil war trap; 9. A model-testing case: explaining Africa's Great War; Part V. Extensions: 10: The strategic logic of peace in Africa; 11. Conclusion.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781316628218
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 414
  • ID: 9781316628218
  • weight: 570
  • ISBN10: 1316628213

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