Is civil war related to poverty? Why are some poor countries stable while others are plagued by perpetual violence? Why does violent conflict sometimes erupt in seemingly stable countries? In fragile environments, does political stability come at the cost of democratic freedoms?  To avoid outbreaks of civil war in fragile countries, do the ends justify the means when governments curtail citizens’ rights in the name of political stability? 
This seminar seeks to answer these questions by analyzing the balance of power in a few countries in Central and Eastern Africa – Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda and the DRC. Who are the most powerful elites in these countries and how do they get what they want? What happens if elite interests collide? How are problems solved if there is no functioning rule of law? 
The seminar examines the role of new technologies in stabilizing and destabilizing these political settlements. Are new surveillance technologies buttressing authoritarianism in some of these countries, while social media platforms stir political unrest in others? If elections and referenda in the global north are influenced by social media platform hacks, how is the internet affecting politics in African countries? 
The seminar will be conducted in English and online (via Zoom). Apart from the mandatory reading, this course relies on a mix of online learning tools – mostly lecture videos, podcasts, reading lists that are accessible as audiobooks, and two documentary films. 

Every other Friday 2pm – 5:30pm