About the author: John Yoder holds a PhD in African history from Northwestern University. His research and writings have focused on African mythology, history, and politics. In 1987 -8, he held a Fulbright fellowship to teach African history and politics at Cuttington University College and the University of Liberia. In 1999, he conducted research in Liberia under a grant from the Pew Foundation. Dr. Yoder currently teaches political science at Whitworth College.
2003 0-7734-6617-7 This study focuses on deeply embedded political values that are shared by the vast majority of Liberia’s population. The book’s conclusions that Liberian politics failed because of civil society’s illiberal overemphasis on stability and order at the expense of tolerance, accountability, and adaptability challenge much of conventional scholarship both about Liberia and about Africa in general. In terms of policy, the book suggests that far more attention will need to be paid to local norms and perspectives if strategies linked to democratization and economic rationalization are to succeed. While the overall theoretical concerns of the book are drawn from the fields of political science and history, it contains a large amount of anecdotal material on popular political culture and civil society, from wedding showers, pop songs, disciplinary practices at schools, and folk tales, to the constitution of a village soccer club. Using tools and methodology from anthropology, theology, and folklore, it interprets deep cultural values found in all segments of Liberian society.