Accepted paper:

The Official Promises and Real Limitations of National Planning in Liberia, 1960-1971


Cassandra Mark-Thiesen (University of Basel)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores matters of national planning and nation-building in the West African state of Liberia between 1960 and 1971, exploring themes of migration, urban housing and vagrancy laws. It will pay careful attention to internal and external political pressures.

Paper long abstract:

The 1960s ushered in a decade of austerity measures in the West African state of Liberia, and in parallel with that a greater preoccupation with matters of national planning, also stipulated by external bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This paper is concerned with how nation-building strategies, which had concretized at the end of World World II, were sharpening between roughly 1960 and 1971. In particular, it will examine government and popular discourses concerning housing and urbanization and economic growth to piece together who belonged to the nation and how. What were the attitudes toward rural-urban migration? What plans did the National Planning Council have for the swelling "shanty towns" in the capital of Monrovia and surrounding a growing number of foreign concessionaries? Amongst other things, the paper will compare the urgency that government authorities gave to welcoming rural migrant-families (apparently to stimulate industrialization) versus to the forced relocation of supposed vagrants back to their rural homes with the help of the police (apparently to promote agricultural productivity). It will further address some of the difficulties associated with researching these themes at the Center for National Documents and Records Agency (CNDRA) - the national archives of Liberia.

panel His20
Who belongs to the new nations? Inclusion, expulsion and xenophobia in early post-independence West Africa (1957-1973)