Angela Gapa, a PhD candidate of International Relations at Florida International University (FIU), returned from Botswana this December, where she spent four months collecting data in support of her doctoral dissertation. Her research attempts to answer the question of Botswana’s exceptionality within the context of the “resource curse”. Worldwide, countries that have exported non-renewable natural resources such as oil and diamonds have been among the least able to develop, the most authoritarian and the most prone to conflict. However, Botswana has garnered analytic attention as an exception to this phenomenon. As the world’s premier producer of gem diamonds, with over 80% of its export earnings and 50% of its GDP derived from diamond revenues, Botswana has been unexpectedly immune to the instability and poor performance usually associated with geological luck.
Gapa travelled to Botswana to uncover the country’s sources of institutional quality, paying close attention to variables such as legitimacy, political culture, ethnic cohesion as well as Botswana’s external relations and foreign policy. Under a research permit awarded to her by the Office of the President of Botswana, she conducted elite interviews with representatives from the Botswana Government, particularly the Ministries of Mineral, Water and Energy Resources; Trade and Industry; Finance and Development Planning; and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. She also gained considerable access to representatives of the De Beers Group of Companies. While in Botswana, she was affiliated with the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Botswana. Gapa is under the mentorship of Dr John F. Clark, Professor of International Relations at FIU. She is a recipient of the FIU Dissertation Evidence Acquisition Fellowship. Funding for her trip was also made possible through the support of FIU’s African & African Diaspora Studies Program (AADS). Gapa hopes to defend her dissertation in the Fall of 2012.