David Dow

Political Science
AY 2016-17

While social science research has illuminated cross-national differences in governance and their relationship to the outbreak of conflict, my dissertation focuses on a dynamic about which we know far less: What strategies do governments use at the subnational level to ensure peace and order in post-conflict settings? My dissertation examines the relationship between violent internal conflict and subsequent state-building over time. I specifically study how political incentives shape the strategies of post-conflict governance along three important dimensions of public goods provision: electricity, policing, and foreign aid. I focus on Uganda, which has undertaken one of the most heralded post-conflict reconstruction efforts in sub-Saharan Africa. In the aftermath of over two decades of political instability and a civil war that ended in 1986, Uganda’s ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), has sought to shore up state capacity as well as consolidate political control through a number of governing strategies. Using a mixture of qualitative evidence gathered from interviews with policymakers and archival research during fieldwork in Uganda and statistical analyses of original data I have assembled, I show that political incentives strongly shape the allocation of state resources across localities. Rather than focusing on local needs or broad-based development, allocation decisions are driven by central government imperatives for control along two main dimensions: 1) improving local electoral support for the ruling party and 2) preventing violent conflict that threatens to unseat the ruling party.