Reframing “Ethnic Conflict” as “Politicized Ethnic Conflict”

Currently, “ethnic conflict” appears to be a useful label for understanding political and social violence around the world. One only needs to search for this term on an academic search engine or database to notice the plethora of studies and articles surrounding this topic. This paper strives to reframe the term “ethnic conflict” as “politicized ethnic conflict” in order to more accurately reflect both the ultimate and proximate causes of this type of violence. By using literature on ethnic conflict and politicized ethnicity, along with the comparative cases of Kenya and Tanzania, this paper argues for the incorporation of the term “politicized ethnic conflict” into the literature since it is evident that politicized ethnicity ultimately drives many instances of ethnic conflict, with ethnic difference serving as a proximate cause and delineator. 

Explaining Disparities in Electoral Concession and Peaceful Presidential Power Alternation in 21st Century Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire

This paper argues that the ultimate reason explaining the disparate concession outcomes is a function of zero-sum politics versus positive-sum politics, which are present in Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal respectively. Through exploring two underlying, pre-democratization variables, the catalyst of democratization, and two consequential, post-democratization variables, this paper will demonstrate how and why Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire differ in terms of zero-sum/positive-sum politics, and how this ultimate reason explains why Wade chose to peacefully concede his defeat while Gbagbo did not.

Gender Quotas in Sub-Saharan African Legislatures: Feminist Justifications and Implications

Over the past few decades, gender quotas have become an increasingly common policy around the world. Since the late 1980s, more than 70 countries have implemented laws requiring that women compose a minimum percentage of electoral candidates or seats in the national legislature, with the goal that such policies will increase the amount of women in elected legislative positions. Current scholars generally agree that gender quotas have led to an increase in the presence of women in legislatures around the world, presumably demonstrating that gender quotas achieve a feminist goal of increased representation for women and a more equal opportunity for women to contest such elections. This paper will focus on gender quotas in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region with significant implementation of gender quota policies (half of the countries in the region have mandated gender quotas) and the fastest and largest rate of change in women’s political representation in recent decades.

Desigualdad económica en Guinea Ecuatorial: La falta de instituciones responsables, democráticas, e inclusivas

Guinea Ecuatorial tiene el mayor PIB per cápita de cualquier país de África, pero esta estadística no cuenta toda la historia; la desigualdad económica es generalizada, con gran parte de la riqueza concentrada en manos de la élite política, especialmente la familia del presidente Obiang (Freixa, 2018). Sin embargo, el país no siempre tuvo entradas dramáticas de riqueza. Antes del descubrimiento del petróleo, Guinea Ecuatorial era uno de los países más pobres (Saadoun, 2017). Por lo tanto, el descubrimiento de petróleo sirve como foco principal para este trabajo, ya que transformó radicalmente las realidades sociales y económicas del país. El descubrimiento del petróleo en la década de 1990 se convirtió en un importante punto de inflexión en Guinea Ecuatorial, y fue el impulso para la desigualdad económica masiva que impregna al país a través de las tres causas directas que se describirán en este trabajo: la falta de gastos y servicios para la salud y educación, los proyectos de infraestructura y las compañías petroleras estadounidenses. Las causas directas ilustradas en este trabajo son el resultado de una falta de responsabilidad del gobierno, y esta falta es un resultado directo de las instituciones antidemocráticas. Por último, las instituciones no inclusivas (como resultado de la falta de responsabilidad y democracia del gobierno) son el culpable principal por la desigualdad económica en Guinea Ecuatorial. Esta desigualdad económica se amplificó por la afluencia masiva de los ingresos del petróleo que creía efectivamente un estado rentista.

Democracy and Human Rights in Zimbabwe Post-2018 Elections

While it is unclear what will develop in the near future, it is imperative that the United States continues to enforce its sanctions and uphold its support for democracy and human rights. The United States should promote an end to attacks on political opposition and civil society, the elimination of repressive laws, transparent economic management, and election reform with meaningful national dialogue. Lastly, while the United States should strive to assist with the development of Zimbabwe, it cannot lose sight of the necessary conditions of good governance and respect for human rights.

China’s Involvement in Africa in the Past 20 Years

Concurrent with China’s rapid economic growth over the past two decades has been China’s increasingly deep interest, investment, and relationship with the African continent. China has engaged in considerable trade with African countries and heavily financed development projects. China’s expanding geopolitical influence through the media, military involvement, and diplomatic engagement has introduced ubiquitous new realities on the continent, which the United States should investigate and address more actively. As economic and political ties have deepened between China and Africa, some in the West have become skeptical of China’s intentions and whether negative impacts will arise from Chinese engagement with Africa. On the contrary, many African governments and citizens openly welcome China’s involvement, a major reason being China’s ability to address the infrastructure gap. However, this situation is not purely dichotomous and thus a more nuanced approach is required to assess the potential outcomes for African countries and the United States.

Stateness as a Determinant of FDI Inflows in Sub-Saharan African Countries

This paper argues that stateness, as defined by “the capacity of the state to exercise its fundamental functions” and maintaining a monopoly on the use of force, is a major determinant of FDI inflows in SSA countries. Through using the independent variable of stateness, which will be qualified and measured using various indicators, and the dependent variable of foreign direct investment, net inflows (BoP, current US$), this paper will use data from five SSA countries (South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, the Central African Republic, and Somalia) to demonstrate a correlation and causation from state capacity to FDI inflows. The years examined for data purposes are 2008 (sometimes earlier when necessary) until the most current year available in order to align with the 2008-2017 timeframe provided by the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance. This paper will investigate five causal mechanisms of stateness, explain how they are functions of stateness and affect FDI inflows, and then correlate the data and statistics of the mechanisms with the respective countries’ data and statistics regarding FDI inflows. These results show that states with stronger state capacity receive higher FDI inflows, ultimately confirming the hypothesis that high levels of stateness correlate with high levels of FDI inflows (and the converse of low to low).

The Role of National Anthems in Constructing National Identities in the Atlantic World

Beginning in the late 18th century, the Atlantic world experienced a birth of new states rooted in common ideas such as liberty. These newly created nations were no longer connected by ethnic similarities, but instead by ideas and values, bringing together people of more diverse backgrounds than nation-states in the centuries before. New legal systems and governments outlined these new ideas in constitutions, but this was mere state-building. Identity on the other hand, is rooted in nation building. The births of the French Republic, the United States, Liberia, and Haiti involved revolutionary action that united them during their struggle against superior powers. However, this unifying idea of revolution tends to fade once the oppressor is removed, resulting in crucial years of instability. One way to unify people during this time was music. Historically, music has played a central role in forming cultural identities. For many years, music was intrinsically tied to ethnicity, serving as a form of homogenous bond. In the absence of homogenous bonds, members of these new countries combined music with the states’ foundational ideals, leading to the creation of national anthems. National anthems combined shared ideas, values, and history in an emotional context, ingraining these unifying forces into a new culture and creating national identities in nascent, revolutionary states. 

Latin America & East Asia: Similarities and Differences in Financial Crises

While the Latin American Debt Crisis of the 1980s and the East Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 generally both stemmed from overborrowing from foreign lenders, the type of crisis that unfolded depended on the level of government intervention prior to the crisis and the type of crisis (fiscal or currency-based) determined the rapidity of the… Continue reading Latin America & East Asia: Similarities and Differences in Financial Crises

Ghana and South Africa: A Tale of Different Democracies

While Ghana and South Africa have stronger democracies compared to many countries on the African continent, Ghana has proven to have a more legitimate and fair democracy. Compiling the various factors of democracy shows that Ghana’s prospects for democratic support from all citizens are stronger than South Africa’s democratic future. By examining the greater role… Continue reading Ghana and South Africa: A Tale of Different Democracies