£21.99 | $39.95
8 March 2012
234mm x 156mm
Africa, Politics, Human Rights, International Relations, Anthropology
African Conflicts and Informal Power
Big Men and Networks
Edited by Mats Utas
In the aftermath of an armed conflict in Africa, the international community both produces and demands from local partners a variety of blueprints for reconstructing state and society. The aim is to re-formalize the state after what is viewed as a period of fragmentation. In reality, African economies and polities are very much informal in character, with informal actors, including so-called Big Men, often using their positions in the formal structure as a means to reach their own goals.
Through a variety of in-depth case studies, including the DRC, Sierra Leone and Liberia, African Conflicts and Informal Power shows how important informal political and economic networks are in many of the continent’s conflict areas. Moreover, it demonstrates that without a proper understanding of the impact of these networks, attempts to formalize African states, particularly those emerging from wars, will be in vain.
'This important collection of great articles on 'Bigmanity' will certainly become a central reference for different disciplines. Informal networks with 'big men' as their nodes, are certainly not the only game in town' in African polities and societies, but they clearly merit stronger attention. This book offers a multitude of entry points to this important topic.' - Andreas Mehler, Director of the Institute of African Affairs at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies
'This is an important book for anyone who cares about the mechanics of African conflicts and the possibilities for post-conflict stability. Through rich case studies and comparisons these chapters help us understand some of the most troubling issues on the continent today. Tracing the informal networks that allow Big Men to achieve, exercise and sometimes lose power demonstrates just how shallow our thinking about Africa is when we refuse to move beyond the language of failed states and criminal enterprises. This volume is exactly the kind of interdisciplinary scholarship that helps us think more critically and creatively about who benefits from African crises - and why outside interventions so often fail.' - Danny Hoffman, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, author of 'The War Machines'
'This fascinating and important set of studies emphasises the critical role of Big Men, and the networks that they operate, in the struggles for control of Africa's resources that increasingly define the contours of conflict on the continent - and provides essential insights for anyone who seeks to establish fairer and more peaceful structures for resource management.' - Christopher Clapham, Centre of African Studies, Cambridge University.
'This is an excellent collection of essays on a vitally important yet oft-neglected aspect of armed conflict in Africa: the role of informal networks and power structures as keys to a deeper understanding both of the dynamics of violence and the prospects for peace. Carefully researched case studies provide the reader with a unique, and uniquely valuable, insight into the nature of contemporary armed conflict on the continent.' - Professor Mats Berdal, Department of War Studies, SSPP, King's College London
Table of Contents
Introduction: Bigmanity and network governance in African conflicts - By Mats Utas
Part 1: Country case studies
1. Informal political structures, resources and the Ugandan army; military entrepreneurialism in the Ugandan-Congolese borderland - Koen Vlassenroot and Sandrine Perot
2. Big Man Business in the Borderland of Sierra Leone - Maya Mynster Christensen
3. The politics of impersonation: Corps habillés, Nouchis, and subaltern Bigmanity in Côte d’Ivoire - Karel Arnaut
4. Demobilized or remobilized? Liberia’s remaining rebel structures in post-war security settings - Mariam Persson
5. ‘Castles in the sand’: Informal networks and power brokers in the Northern Mali periphery - Morten Böås
Part 2: Thematic case studies
6. Critical states and cocaine connections - By Henrik Vigh
7. African Big Men and international criminal justice: the case of Sierra Leone - By Gerhard Anders
8. Big Man bargaining in African conflicts - By Ilmari Käihkö
9. Intermediaries of peace or agents of war: the role of ex-midlevel commanders in Big Man networks - By Anders Themnér
10. The Big Men commanding conflict resources in Africa: the DRC case - By Ruben de Koning
About the Author:
Mats Utas is associate professor and senior researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. Between 2009 and 2011 he headed the Africa programme at the Swedish National Defence College. He has published in journals such as African Affairs and Journal of Modern African Studies and in edited books on historical warfare, child and youth combatants, media, refugees, gender in war zones, post-war reconstruction and urban poverty. He is the co-author of Navigating youth, generating adulthood: social becoming in an African context (NAI Press, 2006). Utas has conducted extensive fieldwork in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and more recently researched the roles of businessmen in the Somali conflict during fieldworks in Kenya and Dubai.
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