The End of Peaceful Exceptionalism: How the Dual Transitions of Economic and Political Liberalization Impacted Micro-Level Conflicts and Cleavage Dynamics in Tanzania




Schaerrer, Alexandra

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This dissertation examines the conditions that have compressed social relations and political order in Tanzania, in order to understand when and why social unity and state-society relations unravel. Further, this dissertation sheds light on the type of cleavages emerging from localized instances of violence in Tanzania, as well as their regional dimensions. Theoretically, this dissertation joins a rich literature concerned with unpacking the origins of political disorder, communal violence, and the activation of new or pre-existing social tensions and anxieties. By applying frameworks on horizontal inequalities, democratization, transitioning states, and the liberalization-conflict relationship, this research examines how economic and political interventions have contributed to the conditions that currently threaten Tanzania’s political and social unity. While existing models of instability successfully demonstrate under what conditions a county is most likely to experience state instability, they often fail to unpack the mechanisms that impact these conditions, and in what way they contribute to the onset of instability, why, and along what lines of tension. Instead, existing lines of tension are often treated as a ‘given,’ most often falling back on the ‘ethnic’ as the de facto basis for group-based discord in Africa. This dissertation contributes to the conflict field in several important ways, and demonstrates that state capture need not be ideationally motivated at all. Instead even equal opportunity crony capitalist factions can compete for state capture. Further, and in what translates well beyond Tanzania and Africa, this dissertation finds evidence indicating a need to look at corruption as a leading conflict mechanism and source of societal fractures. By presenting original evidence on Tanzania, this research demonstrates that the fractures emerging from state instability are not intuitive. Instead, as societies experience huge processes of political and economic change, and depending on their historic context, they fracture along multiple lines of division, including the political, racial, regional, religious, communal, and ethnic.



African studies, Economic theory, Ethnic studies, Communal Conflicts, Economic Liberalization, Political Liberalization, Political Violence, Regionalism, Tanzania