Abstract: This book project examines how the wartime experiences of civil society leaders affect post-conflict democratization. Although international donors funnel millions of dollars in aid to local civic organizations in conflict-affected countries with the goal of facilitating democracy and development, neither scholars nor policymakers fundamentally understand the leaders of those organizations. Relatively little is known about attitudes and behaviors held by civil society leaders, who are critical actors in post-conflict democratization, towards political empowerment or resource distribution. Employing lab-in-the-field experiments, surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups in post-war Côte d’Ivoire, I show that living under rebel control affects civil society leader behavior, shaping who starts organizations, what kinds of work they do, how they are perceived by local constituents, and how they conduct democracy and development projects in the future. These findings have implications for post-conflict democratization by raising questions about the wisdom of relying on war-traumatized civic leaders to facilitate the growth of democratic culture.
Bio: Justine Maisha Davis is an LSA Collegiate Fellow in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) at the University of Michigan, where she will be an Assistant Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies and Political Science starting in the fall of 2022. She holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, was a UC presidential postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego, and holds a master’s degree from the American University of Paris. Her research interests include electoral violence, civil society, and the challenges to democratization efforts in post-conflict settings and weakly institutionalized democracies. Her dissertation, “Wartime Experiences of Civic Leaders: Legacies of Civil War, Rebel Control, and Democratization in Post-Conflict Africa,” won the Western Political Science Association best dissertation award in 2020. She also won the Ralph Bunche Best Graduate Student Paper in 2018 Award from the African Politics Conference Group, an organized section of the American Political Science Association and the African Studies Association. Her research has been published in African Affairs, Party Politics, and the South African Geographical Journal.