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Statelessness, Nationality, and Citizenship in Sierra Leone

Aaron Hale, Fredline M'Cormack-Hale

Abstract


This article examines the issue of statelessness in the context of postconflict Sierra Leone. Internationally, the concept of statelessness was constructed at a time when the primary view of what constituted a citizen or a national was understood from a top-down, Weberian perspective, which has limited the utility of the concept in the context of African politics. This article re-assesses this important issue, moving away from a top-down point of view to an intersubjective perspective where statelessness, citizenship, and nationality are shaped not only by formal state institutions but also by informal social norms that better reflect local realities. We conducted empirical research in Sierra Leone in five districts and Freetown. Our findings problematize our understanding of statelessness and have implications for policy and practice in addressing issues of citizenship and notions of belonging. They also challenge orthodox policies geared to addressing these populations that are largely designed and implemented by international organizations. The implications of our findings call into question the value of the concept of statelessness in the larger context of postcolonial Africa despite its recognized importance in other geographic settings.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/gss.2018.0029



Published by the University of Florida Press on behalf of the Association of Global South Studies.