Non-state actors and state building in divided societies: the case of Libya (1939-1970)

Integrated approaches to state building emphasise the role of non-state actors, the centrality of state-society relations, and socio-political cohesion to the process without an understanding of the dynamics of engagement between non-state actors and the state. This has been packaged in different ways, as 'localisation', 'hybridity', and has even been subsumed into the 'liberal peace'. 

This research is a critical examination of the role of non-state actors in state formation, particularly in divided societies. Embedded within this is a revisiting of how states and nations are formed and imagined.

We explore the trajectory of engagement - corrosive, neutral and supporting - by non-state actors in state building in two regions of Libya: Cyrenaica and Tripolitania in the second half of the twentieth century. Four non-state actors are explored: faith-based actors, civil society organisations and associations, trade unions, and informal actors (transnational and national).

Using a longue durée approach, we cover the period between the Second World War and the rise of Muammar Gaddafi in 1969. During that period, Libya underwent transitions from an Italian colony to a territory under the British Military Administration (BMA), an independent monarchy, an Arab republic and then to a socialist jamahiriya.

Sherine El Taraboulsi-McCarthy
Research Student