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Statebuilding through diaspora recruitment?: The role of capacity, norms and representation for legitimacy in Somaliland and Liberia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

How do the local elites and the wider population perceive returnees in post-war governments and what shapes these returnees’ legitimacy? Overall, while acknowledging some benefits, local elites in Somaliland and Liberia highlight challenges connected to returnees’ presence in governments and question their legitimacy. These challenges are mirrored in the perceptions of the Liberian population, who see returnees as less legitimate in government positions than stayees. The legitimacy of these returnees is mainly shaped by notions of capacity, democratic norms and practices as well as by how well they represent the local population. This thesis provides several pioneering studies of how diaspora returnees are perceived domestically. These issues are examined through three essays that rely on a wide array of novel data from Somaliland and Liberia. In essay I, I discuss under which conditions returnees in the Somaliland government are seen as legitimate. In essay II, I demonstrate how Liberian elite perceptions and experiences of returnee ministers only slightly correspond to the expectations held in international and national policy circles. In essays I and II, I mainly rely on elite interviews. However, in essay III, I investigate the research question from the perspective of the general Liberian population. Using a survey experiment, I demonstrate how a high presence of returnee ministers negatively affects cabinet legitimacy. This effect, however, is attenuated when returnees indicate that they will give up their ties to their host country. In this way, this thesis problematizes expectations of diaspora returnees by showing how they seldom constitute ideal interlocutors in statebuilding activities and their engagement often implies difficult trade-offs between central peacebuilding and statebuilding objectives. Dominance by returnees in the government excludes local actors and signals that qualifications acquired in the Global North are valued over domestic knowledge. This thesis concludes that in these contexts diaspora recruitment is highly political.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2021. , p. 120
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 182
Keywords [en]
Statebuilding, Peacebuilding, Liberia, Somaliland, Diaspora, Legitimacy
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-431663ISBN: 978-91-513-1118-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-431663DiVA, id: diva2:1518155
Public defence
2021-03-05, Brusewitzsalen, Östra Ågatan 19, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council, VR 2013-06334Available from: 2021-02-11 Created: 2021-01-15 Last updated: 2021-03-04
List of papers
1. Perceptions of Returnees in Somaliland Politics: The Grounds for Legitimacy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perceptions of Returnees in Somaliland Politics: The Grounds for Legitimacy
2017 (English)In: International migration (Geneva. Print), ISSN 0020-7985, E-ISSN 1468-2435, Vol. 55, no 5, p. 205-216Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
WILEY, 2017
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-335132 (URN)10.1111/imig.12327 (DOI)000410672000014 ()
Available from: 2017-11-30 Created: 2017-11-30 Last updated: 2021-01-15Bibliographically approved
2. Do diaspora returnees meet expectations? Technocratic skills and outsiderness in Liberian post-war cabinets
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Do diaspora returnees meet expectations? Technocratic skills and outsiderness in Liberian post-war cabinets
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Donors and national governments have often supported the recruitment of returning diaspora as the new political elite, as they are deemed likely to promote efficient, democratic, and locally-owned governance. This support, however, often ignores how domestic elites view such recruitments. This paper examines to what extent Liberian elites believe returnee ministers fulfil the expectations held in international and national policy circles. Using interviews with elites and newspaper materials, this paper shows that Liberian elites believe returnee ministers have two potential benefits: their qualifications and their relationship with donors. However, these elites often view returnee ministers as outsiders and highlight the shortcomings of the idea of returnees as “technocrat missionaries”. In addition, and in contrast to policy circle expectations, this study shows that the Liberian elite questions whether returnee ministers provides good governance, are locally-embedded, and through temporary return can transfer capacity to the cabinet.

Keywords
Statebuilding, peacebuilding, Liberia, Somaliland, Diaspora
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-431659 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, VR 2013-06334
Available from: 2021-01-15 Created: 2021-01-15 Last updated: 2021-01-15
3. How legitimate are diaspora ministers among citizens? Findings from a survey experiment in Liberia
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How legitimate are diaspora ministers among citizens? Findings from a survey experiment in Liberia
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

After intrastate wars, cabinet positions are often filled with diaspora returnees, a strategy supported by many international actors. However, we have limited knowledge about how citizens perceive these returnees and the institutions they serve. This article addresses these questions by analysing unique data collected during a face-to-face survey experiment in Monrovia, Liberia with 1038 respondents. Findings suggest that Monrovians view a cabinet consisting of ministers mainly recruited from the diaspora as less legitimate compared to a cabinet with ministers recruited locally. Interestingly, results indicate that when returnee ministers are presented as giving up ties to their past host country, the negative effect of a high proportion of diaspora ministers on cabinet legitimacy is attenuated. These findings add new theoretical understandings about perceptions of post-war cabinets as well as the place of diaspora returnees in state building. Moreover, these findings provide an important foundation for assessing international support for diaspora recruitment to post-war governments.

Keywords
Statebuilding, peacebuilding, Liberia, Diaspora
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Political Science; Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-431660 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, VR 2013-06334
Available from: 2021-01-15 Created: 2021-01-15 Last updated: 2021-01-15

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