Why Violent Ethnic Mobilizations Occur and Persist
: A Case Study of Violent Ethnic Mobilization in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Within the academic field ethnic conflict studies and resolution, this research investigates the phenomenon of violent ethnic mobilization in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. Using the Kaufmanian ethnosymbolic approach to the study of ethnic violence as a theoretical and analytical guide, the project examines why violent ethnic mobilisation has continued to persist in the aforementioned region despite governmental efforts at eradicating it. This is the core issue around which the project’s research questions articulate. The principal argument presented and defended here is that existing causal explanations for violent ethnic mobilization and its persistence in the Niger-Delta region are inadequate and incomprehensive. They are merely some narrow and isolating extrapolations of the classical modernist constructivist and instrumentalist doctrines which have been judged inadequate in accounting for why violent ethnic mobilizations occur and persist. Arguing within the ethnosymbolic paradigm, the thesis contends that a robust theory of ethnic violence ought to be the sort that creatively and purposively combines, rather than isolate, relevant logics of existing theoretical explanations of ethnic violence. Only in this way would it be capable of proffering a more adequate and comprehensive framework for examining, explaining, and resolving the conundrum of violent ethnic mobilization, particularly in the aforementioned region under investigation. Ethnosymbolism, the chosen theoretical framework for this thesis, accomplishes just that.
Date of Award29 Sep 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorAdrian G Flint (Supervisor) & Ryerson B Christie (Supervisor)


  • Ethnicity
  • Ethnic Politics
  • Violent Ethnic Mobilization
  • Ethnosymbolism
  • Ethnic militia
  • Niger Delta
  • African Politics
  • Elites
  • Primordialism
  • Instrumentalism
  • Constructivism
  • Colonialism
  • Prebendalism

Cite this