For Peace and For Motherland
: The US Liberian Diaspora in the Politics of Leadership and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The need to study the diaspora in the context of peacebuilding is apparent given what has been an evident gap in the way traditional peacebuilding has been approached; in that the roles of these non-traditional voices for the most part have been ignored. This research adopts a leadership as process perspective to situate the diaspora within the peacebuilding discourse thereby moving it away from a focus on traditional actors, typically institutions as well as individual leaders who usually occupy official positions of authority. It does so through the case study of the Liberian diaspora based in the United States and their engagement in Liberia’s peacebuilding context. Existing literature on the diaspora and the relationship with their homelands has narrowly focused on the diaspora’s dual engagement. This research, however, through empirical data sought instead to understand how the diasporas’ relationships with the homeland community shapes the ways in which they are able to assert influence in the peacebuilding context. The thesis has thus been guided by the question of how the nature of the diasporas’ relationship with their homeland communities shapes the diasporas’ influence within the context of peacebuilding in Liberia. The leadership lens adopted in this thesis enables a more holistic understanding of the diasporas engagement in, and relationship with Liberia, within the vitally important peacebuilding context. The research analyses the nature of this relationship and how it shapes the diasporas influence within this context in three ways. First, it traces the historical foundations of the Liberian state which has shaped the formation and nature of the diaspora and as such points to where and how the diaspora have emerged in Liberia and subsequently how they have contributed to post-conflict Liberia. It finds that Liberia’s foundation has led to the creation of a diverse diaspora who are engaging in varied ways and spaces within Liberia’s peacebuilding context. Second, and related, the research identifies and analyses three contexts in which the diaspora is visibly contributing to and interacting with the Liberian community: economic support, politics and governance, and dual citizenship. Third, the research interrogates the nature of the two-way influence in these sites and the available bases of power. In this regard, finds that the heterogenous nature of the stakeholders and differing interests has resulted in an unsustained mutuality between the diaspora and those based in Liberia. The implications for peacebuilding are clear. Subsequent efforts toward peacebuilding will continue to face challenges because of these differing interests and the continued testing of the degree of mutuality between these stakeholders, around arenas key to achieving peace and stability.
Date of Award1 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorFunmi Olonisakin (Supervisor) & Abiodun Alao (Supervisor)

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