Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Interdisciplinary Program


James W. Warhola

Second Committee Member

Mazie Hough

Third Committee Member

Kimberly Huisman


This dissertation investigates economic development and ethnopolitical conflict in Sudan and South Sudan and focuses on the period from the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South to emergence of South Sudan as a sovereign nation in 2011. Can Bremmer’s (2006) J curve theory and Hewitt, Wilkenfled, and Gurr’s (2010) post-conflict recovery model be used to develop a better understanding of economic development and ethnopolitical conflict in Sudan and South Sudan?

Bremmer’s J curve illustrates the link between political stability and economic openness, and a country’s placement along the curve influences its potential for economic development or political collapse. Although sharing an extensive history, Sudan is an authoritarian regime with tight controls on political, civil, and social liberties; while South Sudan emerges as a nascent democracy with a progressive constitution that guarantees many individual freedoms. However, unresolved development plans, border disagreements, property rights, and water rights to the Nile impact each country and dampen economic development.

Hewitt, Wilkenfeld, and Gurr (2010) identified four elements critical to achieve peace in post-conflict countries: rebuilding the economy, democratization, role of women, and transitional justice. Implementation of these elements differs in Sudan and South Sudan. The Sudanese government focuses development in the greater Khartoum region, violently suppresses opposition political parties, minimizes women’s role outside the home, and ignores International Criminal Court warrants for the arrest of Pres. Bashir on charges of war crimes, human rights abuse, and genocide. In contrast, the South Sudanese government welcomes international investments and technical assistance and training in macroeconomics, fiscal, monetary, and financial policies to build its economy; has established a democratic constitution with a bicameral system of government; sets minimal quotas for women’s participation in politics and social organization; but has not sought transitional justice to reconcile abuses conducted during the 22-year conflict between the North and South.

Despite the limited scoped of investigation, the applicability of Bremmer’s (2006) J-curve theory and Hewitt, Wilkenfeld, and Gurr’s (2010) post-conflict recovery model on economic development and ethnopolitical conflict in Sudan and South Sudan enhances our understanding of the political, economic, and ethnic environments of each country.


Interdisciplinary in Political Science and History