Politics of Affection: Ex-Combatants, Political Engagement
& Reintegration Programs in Liberia

Ex-Combatants, Political Engagement & Reintegration Programs in Liberia

By Johanna Soderstrom
January 2012
Uppsala University Press
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.

ISBN: 9789155482060
412 pages

$99.50 Paper original

The politics of former combatants has the potential to crucially shape democracy and post-war politics. This thesis demonstrates the varying relationships with politics that endure and develop through the war and peace within the ex-combatant community in Liberia. Often caught in a politics of affection, where politics is filtered through an emotional logic, the ex-combatants are not just 'bad' or 'good' citizens. Making sense of this relationship is the main aim of this thesis. Moreover, these variations make it important to understand how Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) policies and programs shape these roles.

The analysis is guided by a critique of conceptualizations of political reintegration within DDR research, and aided by the addition of an explicit democratic component. Participants in specific reintegration programs emphasized certain values more than others, suggesting a link between program design and relation with politics, particularly in the realms of political involvement, but also concerning levels of inclusion and antagonism. A policy feedback framework helps reveal how DDR programs can support and undermine democratization processes. This thesis also explores more transparent ways of using focus groups.


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