Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

When Soldiers Rebel
Ethnic Armies and Political Instability in Africa

$100.00 (C)

  • Date Published: September 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108422475

$ 100.00 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Paperback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Military coups are a constant threat in Africa and many former military leaders are now in control of 'civilian states', yet the military remains understudied, especially over the last decade. Drawing on extensive archival research, cross-national data, and four in-depth comparative case studies, When Soldiers Rebel examines the causes of military coups in post-independence Africa and looks at the relationship between ethnic armies and political instability in the region. Kristen A. Harkness argues that the processes of creating and dismantling ethnically exclusionary state institutions engenders organized and violent political resistance. Focusing on rebellions to protect rather than change the status quo, Harkness sheds light on a mechanism of ethnic violence that helps us understand both the motivations and timing of rebellion, and the rarity of group rebellion in the face of persistent political and economic inequalities along ethnic lines.

    • Proposes and evaluates a new mechanism for explaining why ethnic groups rebel
    • Introduces new data on ethnic recruitment practices into African militaries
    • Brings ethnic dynamics back into the study of military coups
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘Kristen A. Harkness has revived the important subject of military politics and ethnicity, and she has shown not merely whom the likely coup makers are but under what conditions they are likely to strike. This is a very valuable addition to the field.' Donald L. Horowitz, Duke University, North Carolina

    ‘When Soldiers Rebel is a path-breaking, highly original, and forceful book on the causes of coups in post-independence Africa. The case studies are thorough, engaging and persuasive. Compellingly written, When Soldiers Rebel is an elegant and extremely plausible answer to a very important and long-standing question of comparative and international politics.' Hein Goemans, University of Rochester

    ‘Harkness' impressive book sheds new light on the prevalence of military coups in ethnically divided African countries. Full of interesting data and carefully argued, her study convincingly demonstrates that the efforts of rulers to exclude formerly privileged groups often leads to rebellion. It will constitute essential reading for students of the military and ethnic conflict for the foreseeable future.' Nicholas Van de Walle, Cornell University, New York

    ‘A major addition to the literature on ethnic conflict, African politics, and the dynamics of the state. Original, tough-minded, and compelling.' Richard English, author of Does Terrorism Work?: A History

    'In sum, [Harkness'] theory on [soldiers'] ethnic rebel behaviour offers a rich and new perspective on prevailing challenges in Sub-Sahara Africa: civil military relations and preventing military-led coups. In addition, her volume makes an important contribution to the literature on ethnic conflicts as well as democratization research by explaining how armed forces influence democratic transition and consolidation.' Lars Pelke, Democratization

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108422475
    • length: 278 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 156 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • contains: 9 b/w illus. 17 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Ethnicity, military patronage, and soldier rebellion
    2. Statistical tests: ethnic armies and the coup d'état
    3. Building ethnic armies: Cameroon and Sierra Leone
    4. Creating inclusive armies: Senegal and Ghana
    5. Dismantling ethnic armies: African militaries and democratization
    Appendix A. Preindependence ethnic violence and ethnic politicization
    Appendix B. Military coup data
    Appendix C. Ethnicity and the military data
    Appendix D. Supplementary material for regression analysis.

  • Author

    Kristen A. Harkness, University of St Andrews, Scotland
    Kristen A. Harkness is a lecturer in International Relations at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Her research has been published in Democratization, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the Journal of Peace Research, the Journal of Strategic Studies, and Parameters. Her work on ethnicity and African militaries won the 2017 African Politics Conference Group Best Article Award and is currently being funded by the British Academy.

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.