£18.99 | $34.95
14 February 2013
216mm x 138mm
Africa, Geography, International Relations, Politics, Sociology, Minorities and Indigenous Peoples, Development, Anthropology
Politics of Origin in Africa
Autochthony, Citizenship and Conflict
Morten Bøås and Kevin Dunn
In this revealing new book, Bøås and Dunn explore the phenomenon of 'autochthony' - literally ‘son of the soil’ - in African politics. In contemporary Africa, questions concerning origin are currently among the most crucial and contested issues in political life, directly relating to the politics of place, belonging, identity and contested citizenship. Thus, land claims and autochthony disputes are the hallmark of political crises in many places on the African continent.
Examining the often complex reasons behind this recent rise of autochthony across a number of high-profile case studies - including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Kenya - this is an essential book for anyone wishing to understand the impact of this crucial issue on contemporary African politics and conflicts.
'In this compelling study of how identity and conflict may be linked in Africa, Bøås and Dunn provide detailed case studies of the Ivory Coast, DRC, Liberia and Kenya to show how the narrative of autochthony is deployed to create the Other, often with violent consequences. As the authors convincingly substantiate, the construction and exploitation of labels and identifications, such as autochthony, reflect a symptom, rather than a cause, of Africa's maldevelopment.' - Professor Ian Taylor, School of International Relations, University of St. Andrews
'This book addresses a critical and badly neglected issue in the politics of modern Africa, and makes a vital contribution to understanding the dynamics of conflict in the continent.' - Christopher Clapham, Centre of African Studies, Cambridge University
'Politics of Origin in Africa argues that the definition of citizenship on exclusionary terms or the activation of ethnicity and autochthony discourses are an integral component of state-making practices. Through detailed empirical studies of violent manifestations observed in Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya and the DRC, Morten Bøås and Kevin Dunn decipher interactions between space and identity, politics and memory, land ownership and landlessness. The outcome is an insightful and stimulating discussion of strategies associated with situations where the redistribution of resources within the neopatrimonial state and through its big men is highly dysfunctional.' - Daniel C. Bach, University of Bordeaux
'Authocthony has become an important term for discussing identity politics and its relations in francophone Africa. Showing its centrality to the non-francophone countries as well, Politics of Origin in Africa reveals the inadequacy of the literature purporting resource curse on the one hand and resource scarcity on the other as the root cause for conflicts in the continent. Highlighting authocthony as 'a strategy and not a fact', the authors bring the issue of local conflicts over land control and property rights to the fore, connecting them to political discourses and practices of both local and national character. This gives the book a truly refreshing, insightful and not least necessary perspective on African conflicts.' - Mats Utas, The Nordic Africa Institute
'The authors' compelling insights, rooted in a deep understanding of the politics of patronage, reveal how powerful forces in the global economy disrupt old patterns of stability and how the introduction of democratic elections and administrative decentralization can in fact aggravate conflict. This is an essential book both for scholars and analysts seeking to understand the new trajectories of conflicts in African countries, and the decisive shift away from top-down networks of authority to uncertain and often contentious centres of power.' - William Reno, Northwestern University
'Empirically rich and beautifully written, this book's account of the rise of an exclusionary autochtony discourse in Africa in the legitimization of political violence is paradigm-busting. It shows how and why conventional arguments focusing on natural resources, environmental scarcity, or even ethnicity miss the mark entirely and instead how the disruptions of economic liberalization, decentralization, and political liberalization have exacerbated melancholic uncertainty and nervousness about belonging and its inextricable tie to land and citizenship rights -- with parallels throughout the world. It is a must read for anyone interested in civil war, its cycles of recurrence, the potential for civil war, and the need for change in current policies of peace-building.' - Susan L. Woodward, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: conflict, land scarcity and tales of origin
2. Autochthony, melancholy and uncertainty in contemporary African politics
3. Liberia: civil war and the 'Mandingo question'
4. Kenya: majimboism, indigenous land claims and electoral violence
5. Democratic Republic of Congo: 'dead certainty' in North Kivu
6. Côte d'Ivoire: production and the politics of belonging
About the Authors:
Morten Bøås is senior researcher at Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies in Oslo. His recent publications include Global Institutions and Development: Framing the world? (with Desmond McNeill, 2004), New and Critical Security and Regionalism: Beyond the nation state (with James J. Hentz, 2003), African Guerrillas: Raging against the machine (with Kevin Dunn, 2007) and, most recently, International Development, Volumes I-IV (with Benedicte Bull, 2010).
Kevin C. Dunn is an associate professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, USA. His publications include Imagining the Congo: The international relations of identity (2003), Africa’s Challenge to International Relations Theory (with Timothy M. Shaw, 2001), Identity and Global Politics: Theoretical and empirical elaborations (with Patricia Goff, 2004) and African Guerrillas: Raging against the machine (with Morten Bøås, 2007).
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