Anna Ida Rock defends her thesis 5 March


Anna Ida Rock defends her thesis Statebuilding through diaspora recruitment? - The role of capacity, norms and representation for legitimacy in Somaliland and Liberia on 5 March at 13:15. The defence will be broadcasted live from Brusewitzsalen, Östra Ågatan 19. 

Anna Ida Rock photo: Tove Hellkvist

The external reviewer is Professor Isabell Schierenbeck, The School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg.

The members of the examining committee are Professor Annika Björkdahl, Department of Political Science, Lund University, Associate Professor Anders Themnér, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University and Professor PerOla Öberg, Department of Government, Uppsala University (also chairman of the Public Defence).

Please note that the defence will be carried out in Swedish.



How do the local elites and the wider population perceive returnees in post-war governments and what shapes these returnees’ legitimacy? Overall, while acknowledging some benefits, local elites in Somaliland and Liberia highlight challenges connected to returnees’ presence in governments and question their legitimacy. These challenges are mirrored in the perceptions of the Liberian population, who see returnees as less legitimate in government positions than stayees. The legitimacy of these returnees is mainly shaped by notions of capacity, democratic norms and practices as well as by how well they represent the local population. This thesis provides several pioneering studies of how diaspora returnees are perceived domestically. These issues are examined through three essays that rely on a wide array of novel data from Somaliland and Liberia. In essay I, I discuss under which conditions returnees in the Somaliland government are seen as legitimate. In essay II, I demonstrate how Liberian elite perceptions and experiences of returnee ministers only slightly correspond to the expectations held in international and national policy circles. In essays I and II, I mainly rely on elite interviews. However, in essay III, I investigate the research question from the perspective of the general Liberian population. Using a survey experiment, I demonstrate how a high presence of returnee ministers negatively affects cabinet legitimacy. This effect, however, is attenuated when returnees indicate that they will give up their ties to their host country. In this way, this thesis problematizes expectations of diaspora returnees by showing how they seldom constitute ideal interlocutors in statebuilding activities and their engagement often implies difficult trade-offs between central peacebuilding and statebuilding objectives. Dominance by returnees in the government excludes local actors and signals that qualifications acquired in the Global North are valued over domestic knowledge. This thesis concludes that in these contexts diaspora recruitment is highly political.

Find out more about Anna Ida Rock here

Full-text available on DiVA Open Access

Public Defences

Last modified: 2023-11-23