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The writing of this dissertation has been an amazing journey that has taken me across three continents and six countries. It has been a feast of experiences, from helicopter rides over the vast Liberian countryside to interviews with officials at the UN Secretariat in New York to elevator chats with fellow foreign policy enthusiasts at the DFAIT in Ottawa. It has also been a time of fantastic intellectual growth, fostered by a mix of wonderful learning environments at Oxford, Yale, DFAIT (Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada) and in West Africa. Writing this dissertation would not have been possible (or half as much fun) without the support of my friends, colleagues, and mentors from all of these places.

To My Mentors

At Oxford, the first person that deserves my gratitude is my supervisor David Anderson. Dave has given me enormous freedom to wander intellectually, with only an occasional tug on my sleeve to bring me back to topic. There have been numerous occasions where I remember feeling disheartened and stumped about the direction of my research, but inevitably, a meeting with Dave would reinvigorate my enthusiasm and raise my spirits immeasurably. My husband always knew when I had met with my supervisor because I would return home, spilling over with new ideas and excitement. Dave’s steadfast support and intellectual guidance—from start to finish— have been invaluable over the years and I feel incredibly privileged to have him as my supervisor.

I have also benefited greatly from other mentors at Oxford. Diego Gambetta, my college supervisor at Nuffield, has been a source of inspiration through his own research, and also in encouraging me to pursue ideas for their own sake. I still remember a conversation we once had where he expressed surprise at my concern over finding employment after the D.Phil. “Christine,” he said, “Do what you love and the rest will follow.” I’m doing my best Diego, I’m doing my best.

On the international relations side, Richard Caplan and Jennifer Welsh have both been brilliant mentors. Together with Dave Anderson, they helped create the intellectual space at Oxford that has given rise to young scholars like myself who work on post-conflict issues. I want to thank Richard for the constructive feedback that he has provided to this project over the years, first as an assessor for my prospectus, and then later when he and Andy Hurrell co-ordinated the 2006 Statebuilding Workshop. I want to thank Jennifer for her constant encouragement and insightful career advice— she has been a role model for me since I first arrived at Oxford.

Two other people who have had an important academic influence on me are Dominik Zaum and Margit Tavits. They have both been wonderful collaborators and generous friends. I have learned a lot about how to do interesting and rigorous research through my partnerships with them. Along with Sarah Percy, I also want to thank them for their guidance on being a young academic entering the profession—their advice has been enormously helpful.

I am also grateful to several mentors from my pre-Oxford days. From the University of Waterloo, I want to thank David Black, David Johnston, and John English. And from Princeton, I want to thank Bob Hutchings and Rick Barton. Each of them has been an inspiration to me.

To My Colleagues

Writing a dissertation is both extremely lonely and extremely convivial. I would work, monklike, for hours on end, holed up in my office and then emerge out of my cocoon for intense, vibrant discussions with friends and colleagues. These interactions were the highlight of my day and I benefited greatly from having access to different environments and institutions: at Oxford and Yale, at DFAIT, and in West Africa.. The influences of each of these places are stamped across this dissertation. In different ways, they each taught me how to think about problems, how to marshal and evaluate evidence, how to assess the validity and consistency of arguments, and how to tie together seemingly disparate concepts.

At Oxford, I want to acknowledge the rich and supportive academic environments provided by Nuffield College, Exeter College, and African Studies. These three bodies, in their own Oxford way, have nurtured me (literally), housed me, and created a lively community of scholars that I count myself lucky to be a part of.  From Oxford, I would like to thank in particular Mayling Birney, Scott Blinder, Frances Cairncross, Christina Clark, Phil Clark, Sandra Gonzalez Bailon, Vanasay Khamphommala, Gernot Klantschnig, Tom Kohut, Adrienne le Bas, Pavan Mamidi, Kate Meagher, Meredith Rolfe, Marina Tzvetkova, Eline de Rooij, Lisa Vanhala, Federico Varese, Christian Webersik, and Tamar Yogev.

Also at Oxford, I also want to thank Caroline Fehl and Timothy Hicks, for being great co-convenors of the Nuffield Graduate Political Science Seminar. And I want to thank Richard Ponzio, Dominik Zaum, and Laurens van Apeldoorn for being diligent co-organizers of our Peacebuilding and Corruption conference.

At Yale, I would like to thank Stathis Kalyvas for welcoming me into the OCV fold. It was a joy to be surrounded by people who worked on topics that were so kindred in spirit to my own! I am grateful to the entire OCV group for being open and friendly to newcomers like me. This dissertation owes much to this outstanding group of scholars. For their New Haven hospitality, I would like to thank Laia Balcells, Adi Grief, Leslie Hough, Bonny Lin, Cory McCruden, Mike McGovern, Kwame Onoma, and Steve Shewfelt.

In Ottawa at DFAIT, I found a group of immensely talented and dedicated colleagues in the Policy Research Division. They were passionate, knowledgeable, fascinating, engaged, and friendly— in short, they were tremendous diplomats and colleagues in every sense. They made me so proud to be Canadian. In particular, I want to thank my supervisors Mariève Dubois, Ariel Delouya, Weldon Epp, Graham Schantz, and Arif Lalani for welcoming me to DFAIT and for creating such a collegial atmosphere. I also want to thank my colleagues: Charles Arnott, Jean Bourassa, Diane Cameron, Janice Cavell, Mia Choinière, Jessica Davis, Greg Donaghy, Nicole Favreau, Helen Fytche, Marketa Geislerova, Graham Gleddie, Jean Gauthier, Mary Halloran, Hassan Hamdan, Sabrina Iriarte, Mora Johnson, Sonia Komenda, Annie Lafontaine, Charlotte Landry, Pierric Le Dorze, Hector Mackenzie, Sarah MacLeod, Alex McNiven, Carol McQueen, Matt Paradis, Yoland Senoran, Frieda Wong, and Christina Yeung.

In the fall of 2003, long before I ever thought about writing a DPhil, I spent a formative period conducting independent research on gangs and post-conflict violence in South Africa. I was lucky enough to be hosted by the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) at University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg and by the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cape Town. Through this experience, I learned an enormous amount about how to do field research that later proved to be extremely valuable. I am grateful to Greg Mills, Wilfred Scharf, and Elizabeth Sidiropoulos for making this experience possible.

On the substance of the dissertation, I want to thank those who took the time to directly engage with earlier versions of this material: Michael Bratton, Macartan Humphreys, Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, and Ngaire Woods. At different stages of the D.Phil., each of them helped me work through my ideas; I am extremely grateful for their intellectual input into this project. In this vein, I also want to thank Will Reno for his ongoing support.

In my attempts to figure out what this project was all about, I could not have asked for sharper minds than Matt Kocher, Zachariah Mampilly, and Harris Mylonas: the three of them took the time to read and re-read very early drafts of the theoretical framework and provided incredibly helpful comments. And then there were three… my dear friends Carolyn Haggis, Gina Bateson, and Anna Dimitrijevics who have, on a multitude of occasions, commented on draft chapters, outlines, debated the overarching ideas of this dissertation with me, and generally done everything they could to be supportive of me and this project. I am completely indebted to them.

To My West African Hosts

This dissertation could not have been written without the co-operation of so many West African and ex-pat friends and colleagues. I arrived in Liberia in 2005 uncertain about whether elections would bring violence back to the country and worried about a return to war. Thankfully, I developed an incredible support network of people who housed me, fed me, shared their thoughts about the country with me, and transported me around Monrovia and deep into the Liberian bush. I don’t think I can ever repay the individual kindnesses that they showed me; I can only promise to pay it forward to others.

From my time in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire, I would like to thank Ashley Barr, Aine Bhreathnagh, Nathaniel Barnes, Johnson Bohr, Cholo Brooks, Matt Chessen, Cara Chester, Tyler Christie, Varfee Dorley, Derek Frank, Benoît Gauthier, Ibrahim Idris, Daniel Johnson, Emmanuel Jones, Kathryn Joseph, Taziff Koroma, Eliane Kraft, Erin McCandless, Boima Metzger, Bino Mohammed, John Morlu, Muchiri Murenga, Gloria Ntegeye, Chipo Nyambuya, Lietenant-General Chikadibia Obiakor, Sadie O’Mahoney, Paavani Reddy, Henry Reed, Philip Samways, Sophia Swithern, Byron Tarr, Simon Taylor, Victor Tweh, Alice Vahanian, Jerome Verdier, Dave and Audrey Waines, Patrick Wandobusi, Esther Wisseh, and Mohamed Yahya.

Separately, I must thank Raul Carrera, Sophia Craig, Christopher Gabelle for their outstanding support, knowledge, and advice. In their various ways, they made my time in the field productive and successful. I am very grateful to them for all of their help.

For being fantastic hosts in Abidjan and Freetown respectively, I want to thank Brett Bruen and Sheka Mansaray. It was a wonderful coincidence to reconnect with both of them in West Africa.

Ever more thanks go to the good friends I made during my time in Liberia: Wayne Bleier, Alfred Brownell, Gabriel Frailich, Beth Eggleston, Margaret Hall, Kay Schweidinger and Evariste Sibomana. They provided me with friendship, great conversations, an instant social life, and constant encouragement. When I had nowhere to stay, they found me housing; when I had no internet connection, they gave me their passwords; when I was worried about being evacuated from the country, they provided reassurance. Having friends like these made everything possible—I appreciate their support and the support of their organizations (IOM, UNMIL, Oxfam, MERLIN, Christian Children’s Fund, Save the Children UK, and UNDP).

Finally, I am grateful to every single person who took the time to talk to me during my field work in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, New York and Washington. I have been touched and honoured by people’s willingness to share their experiences and opinions with me. I only hope that this study does justice to the trust that my interviewees have placed in me.

To My Financial Supporters

I would like to thank the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Overseas Research Scheme (ORS) for providing me with generous financial support throughout my doctorate. I would also like to thank DFAIT for awarding me the munificent Cadieux-Léger Fellowship in 2009. My current institution, Exeter College, has been dearly patient with me as I have finished up and I am thankful for the financial support of the Bennett Boskey Fund, and Bennett Boskey himself, for supporting my junior research fellowship.

For scholarships, field work funding, and conference funding, I would like to thank Nuffield College, the Norman Chester Fund in DPIR Oxford, the British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG), the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund, and the Oxford Research Network on Government in Africa (OReNGA).

To My Friends

John Lennon said it best: “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

From my time in Ottawa, I want to thank André Bernier, Mandy Potts, Slawo Weselkowski, and Anna Zyzniewski for making me and my family feel right at home in the snowy capital. They just about had us convinced that we needed to stay in Ottawa forever. I also owe a deep thank you to my remarkable friend Bindiya Patel for encouraging me to pursue this project in the first place. And to Jeff Colgan and Veronica Chau, who have been incredible friends to me over the years. Their moral support has made all the difference.

To My Family

I have been blessed with a very loving and supportive family. My grandfather, Siang Ting Ho, has always stressed the importance of education and I know that this respect for education has, in some unconscious way, shaped my values and made me the person that I am today. My grandmother, Chow Po Ho, has been a source of constant and unconditional love for as long as I can remember. I am grateful to the two of them for all that they have taught me about what it means to be a good person.

Nothing has made the importance of family more apparent to me than my pregnancy and the arrival of my son Miles. I made it through the pregnancy thanks in large part to my mother and father-in-law, Diane and Joe Scott. I owe them huge thanks not only for taking care of me during this period, but also for being wonderful grandparents, and for their constant and unwavering support.

I am also grateful to my mom, dad, and my brother Vincent for their love and encouragement. Since Miles’ birth, my parents have been especially supportive, staying with us as we fumbled our way through the early days of parenthood. Without them, I have no idea how we would have made it through our three big moves from New Haven to Ottawa to Oxford over the past year and a half. But my parents have not only been a source of logistical support, they have also taught me skills that have made me a better researcher. There is a Chinese proverb 虎父无犬子 that is roughly translated as “A father tiger does not have puppies.” The meaning behind it simply refers to the fact that children are much like their parents. Certainly in my case, I have learned so much from my parents and I appreciate all of the sacrifices that they have made for me. From my mom, I learned empathy, the art of working around obstacles, and the importance of just getting it done. From my dad, I learned to work hard, to stand up for myself, and to pick apart an argument. I am grateful to them both for being wonderful role models to me and now, to Miles.

The last two people I want to thank are my husband Dave Scott and my son Miles. Considering that he is a toddler, it’s hard to imagine how he could contribute to a doctoral dissertation, but in fact, it is his bright little smile that puts it all into perspective for me: nations can be renewed and generational change is possible. He reminds me daily of all that is yet to be. Beyond this, I need to thank my little boy for being such a bundle of joy and laughter.

As for my husband Dave, I find it difficult to express my appreciation because it is so boundless. He is my most enthusiastic cheerleader; he is my best friend; and he is an amazing husband and father. He is my rock. Without his willingness to be Miles’ primary caregiver, this dissertation would have taken even longer to complete; without his sunny optimism, I would be a much grumpier person; without his love and support, I would be lost. I am grateful to my husband not just because he has given up so much to make my career a priority in our lives, but because he has seen me through the ups and downs of the entire D.Phil. process. He has shared this entire amazing journey with me, so it only seems right that I dedicate this dissertation to him.