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State-making in Somalia and Somaliland: understanding war, nationalism and state trajectories as processes of institutional and socio-cognitive standardization

Balthasar, Dominik (2012) State-making in Somalia and Somaliland: understanding war, nationalism and state trajectories as processes of institutional and socio-cognitive standardization. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Although the conundrums of why states falter, how they are reconstituted, and under what conditions war may be constitutive of state-making have received much scholarly attention, they are still hotly debated by academics and policy analysts. Advancing a novel conceptual framework and analysing diverse Somali state trajectories between 1960 and 2010, this thesis adds to those debates both theoretically and empirically. The core issues examined are why and how Somaliland managed to establish state-run structures of governance, how far its development paralleled or diverged from past Somali state trajectories, and under what conditions violent conflict advanced or abridged the polities’ varied state-making projects. Drawing on diverse strands of literature on state-building, nationalism and warfare, the thesis develops an original analytical frame to better understand processes of state-making and state-breaking. It argues not only for the need of ‘bringing the nation back in’, but proposes to conceptualize state trajectories in terms of changing levels of institutional and socio-cognitive standardization. Scrutinizing received wisdom, the empirical research presented finds, amongst others, that Somali state trajectories have been less unique than commonly claimed, and proposes that Somaliland’s alleged state-making success between 1991 and 2010 hinged at least as much on autocratic governance, top-down policies and coercive means as on frequently emphasized elements of grassroots peace-making, ‘traditional’ reconciliation and ‘home-grown’ democracy. Conceptually, the project is located at the intersection of political-economy and historical and institutional approaches to state-making. Applying qualitative research framed in comparative case studies the thesis not only advances the theoretical debate surrounding issues of state fragility and state-making, but also offers novel insights into Somalia’s history and presents new empirical findings on the frequently romanticised case of Somaliland. Yet, the research results are significant beyond Somali boundaries as they provide relevant insights for our general understanding of state trajectories and the role of conflict in statemaking and state-breaking.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Dominik Balthasar
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > International Development

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