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Post-Conflict Governance and Reconstruction: Public Goods, Policing, and Foreign Aid in Uganda


This dissertation investigates how post-conflict countries manage the reconstruction process to simultaneously consolidate political support and minimize new insurgencies. Focusing on subnational variation in the case of Uganda since 1986, I show how and when the central government has manipulated the provision of public goods (i.e., electricity), security (i.e., police infrastructure), and development (i.e., foreign aid projects) to achieve its twin political objectives of improving political support and minimizing violent threats to its rule. In making these distributive choices, I argue that incumbent rulers face what I call a “victor’s dilemma” in which they often must choose between allocating state resources to improve their short-term electoral interests or to invest in longer-term state-building projects that improve the state’s capacity. When armed and electoral opposition are concentrated in different geographic constituencies, resource-constrained governments will prioritize resource allocation disproportionately towards those areas considered a larger threat to their grip on power. On the whole, I demonstrate that Uganda’s allocation of essential state-related services and activities has been motivated largely by short-term interests to maintain political control rather than long-term state building efforts of reconstruction.

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