Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Justine Davis ─ Uncivic Legacies: Civil Society & Democratization in Post-Conflict Africa

Monday, April 3, 2023

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Birkelund Board Room, 111 Thayer Street

What explains variation in the ability of civil society organization (CSO) leaders to produce democratic culture and outcomes in post-conflict settings? A rich literature examines whether and why citizens interact with CSO, but primarily focuses on citizen characteristics that condition their participation. In Justine Davis' book project, she argues that war transforms CSO leadership, which can shape whether citizens uptake democratic values from these organizations. She underscores the fact that citizens want leaders who will include them in networks that can provide access to scarce resources and opportunities. Citizens thus reject and punish CSO leaders who are not altruistic. Through a citizen survey experiment, she shows that once exposed to negative leadership qualities, citizens are likely to have less desire to participate in CSO-sponsored activities ostensibly aimed at inculcating democratic norms and values. In short, CSO leader behavior and citizen reactions combine to influence the ability of leaders to promote democracy in war-torn societies.

Justine Maisha Davis is an assistant professor jointly appointed in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) and the department of political sicence at the University of Michigan. She holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, was an LSA Collegiate Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan, a UC presidential postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego, and holds a master’s degree from the American University of Paris and la Sorbonne-Paris I. 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, PS: Political Science & Politics, and the South African Geographical Journal.

Security Studies Seminar

The format of the seminar is a brief (5-minute) introduction by the author, some initial comments by a lead discussant (5-10 minutes), and then open comments from attendees (remainder of time). All attendees are expected to read the paper ahead of time, as the author will not present their research. This is a working session. Email watsonevents@brown.edu to request a copy of the paper.