Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

Yang Zhong

Committee Members

Robert Gorman, Anthony Nownes, Michael McKinney


This work is an attempt to define a comprehensive contemporary model of the causes of wars of secession, state and illustrate its gaps, and develop new theories to accentuate and improve that model, and through comparative case studies perform some elementary tests of their validity. My theoretical paradigm is dependent on an assumption that the ultimate causes, as captured under the rubric of institutions and structures, of an event involving rational but free-willed human beings are inadequate to explaining the onset of radical, extraordinary politics in general and wars of secession in particular. On the contrary, proximate causes, in the form of environmental factors that cannot be classified structural or institutional and which are either deeply influenced by elite decisions or deeply influence elite decisions must be brought into the theoretical chain.

Specifically I examine the case of Namibia, focusing on the East Caprivi region where in 1999 a substantial portion of the Lozi population attempted to secede, comparing it to the case of Botswana and another minority, the Kalanga people who dominate the North East District. I find that the two states are (1) structurally and institutionally similar, to the point that were these the only causal factors involved one would assume they would suffer similar behavioral outcomes, (2) divergent in terms of minority political identities and degrees of mobilization, and (3) divergent in terms of a series of internal and external environmental decision that cannot be described as structural or institutional.

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