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David Peyton

Program Area(s):  Comparative Politics; International Relations

Regional Specialization(s):  Africa

Dissertation Title:

Warfare, Municipal Development, and the Congolese State Building Project: Explaining Institutional Variation in North Kivu’s Conflict-Affected Cities

Advisor: William Reno

Project description:

Contemporary wars in Sub-Saharan Africa propel the growth of cities. While the demographic and spatial impacts of this trend are well documented, its effect on municipal institutions is less clear. What types of municipal institutions emerge in response to conflict and what explains institutional variation in seemingly similar urban areas? This project addresses these questions by analyzing the development of two geographically proximate cities, Goma and Butembo, during the First and Second Congo Wars. Although these cities experienced comparable levels of demographic, spatial, and economic growth throughout the wars, their municipal institutions followed drastically different developmental paths. Institutional stagnation occurred in Goma, while Butembo experienced an impressive period of institutional innovation. This study explores this variation by assessing the elite coalitions and collective action dilemmas that emerge in response to conflict. These wartime outcomes leave divergent institutional legacies in cities, complicating center-periphery power dynamics and posing nettlesome challenges to post-conflict state building projects.


Building Africa’s Airlift Capacity: A Strategy for Enhancing Military Effectiveness,” Africa Security Brief, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, August 2012. With Birame Diop and Gene McConville.

Research Profile

David M. Peyton is a Ph.D. student in the department of political science at Northwestern University, where he studies urbanization, foreign assistance, and institutional development in postcolonial states, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. His current research takes a special interest in urban development trends in cities affected by intrastate war. He conducts fieldwork in Goma, Butembo, and other cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern provinces.

Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, he worked at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, DC and served as a Tom Lantos Congressional Fellow in the office of Congressman Tom Perriello (VA-05). He has also worked as a research associate at the Urwego-Opportunity Bank in Kigali, Rwanda, where he conducted market research on small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa’s Great Lakes Region. He received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Wheaton College and is an alumnus of the school’s Human Needs and Global Resources program.

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