In Pursuit of Manly Happiness: Well-Being, Education, and Manhood in Northern Sierra Leone

Faculty Research Grant
Grant Year

This project's starting point is the impoverished town of Makeni, in northern Sierra Leone, which served as the rebel headquarters for the final three years of the country’s ten-year civil war. Makeni is ripe with development initiatives and interventions, and as is an increasingly common theme in development, residents continue to struggle in poverty. Bolten studies the continuing transition between war and development by taking a bottom-up approach to understanding development, specifically formal education. Bolten does not investigate local responses to official interventions, but instead local understandings of how education influences personal well- being, how young men who comprise the “future leaders” of Sierra Leone need to achieve social “success” to become men, and, most importantly, how these combine to shift the ground on which young men—the erstwhile purveyors of war—achieve the happiness that signals their commitment to a peaceful social world.