Liberia: The Violence of Democracy

Liberia: The Violence of Democracy

by Mary H. Moran
     
 

ISBN-10: 0812220285

ISBN-13: 9780812220285

Pub. Date: 05/30/2008

Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

Liberia, a small West African country that has been wracked by violence and civil war since 1989, seems a paradoxical place in which to examine questions of democracy and popular participation. Yet Liberia is also the oldest republic in Africa, having become independent in 1847 after colonization by an American philanthropic organization as a refuge for "Free

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Overview

Liberia, a small West African country that has been wracked by violence and civil war since 1989, seems a paradoxical place in which to examine questions of democracy and popular participation. Yet Liberia is also the oldest republic in Africa, having become independent in 1847 after colonization by an American philanthropic organization as a refuge for "Free People of Color" from the United States. Many analysts have attributed the violent upheaval and state collapse Liberia experienced in the 1980s and 1990s to a lack of democratic institutions and long-standing patterns of autocracy, secrecy, and lack of transparency. Liberia: The Violence of Democracy is a response, from an anthropological perspective, to the literature on neopatrimonialism in Africa.

Mary H. Moran argues that democracy is not a foreign import into Africa but that essential aspects of what we in the West consider democratic values are part of the indigenous African traditions of legitimacy and political process. In the case of Liberia, these democratic traditions include institutionalized checks and balances operating at the local level that allow for the voices of structural subordinates (women and younger men) to be heard and be effective in making claims. Moran maintains that the violence and state collapse that have beset Liberia and the surrounding region in the past two decades cannot be attributed to ancient tribal hatreds or neopatrimonial leaders who are simply a modern version of traditional chiefs. Rather, democracy and violence are intersecting themes in Liberian history that have manifested themselves in numerous contexts over the years.

Moran challenges many assumptions about Africa as a continent and speaks in an impassioned voice about the meanings of democracy and violence within Liberia.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812220285
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date:
05/30/2008
Series:
The Ethnography of Political Violence
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Liberia, Violence, and Democracy

1. The Case for Indigenous Democracy
2. Contested Histories
3. Civilization and the Liberian Nation
4. The Promise and Terror of Elections
5. The Lock on the Outhouse Door: Discourses of Development
6. The Crisis of Youth and the Promise of the Future
7. Conclusion: A Wedding and a Funeral

References
Index
Acknowledgments

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