Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Terry Copp

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This thesis examines the crises of war and state collapse in the West African state of Sierra Leone, which has been devastated by a civil rebellion which began ostensibly as armed incursions from neighbouring war-torn Liberia in 1991. It critically examines current literature on the crises, including Robert Kaplan's use of the country as a case study for his views on the "coming anarchy" , and concludes that the dynamics of the country’s collapse are far less mysterious and more pedestrian than the spurious environmental and cultural essentialism which Kaplan ascribes to it. The thesis argues that the failure of the Sierra Leonean state must be understood in terms of the failure of the political leadership since the advent of President Siaka Stevens in I968 and his imposition of a one-party state in 1978. Steven’s brand of one-party rule succeeded in subverting the state’s institutional capacity and undermined respect for institutions of the state. Particular attention is paid to the development of the "Shadow State", and the subsequent failure of society to meet the basic demands of its citizens, especially the ability to provide meaningful and remunerative work for educated and volatile youth.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season