DSA2016: Politics in Development
This panel explores how society structures itself in times of crises and considers the interplay between social structures, agency and crisis dynamics. Ultimately it examines the continuities, discontinuities and transformations which constitute people's "every day normal" at such times.
Crises - whether violent conflict or natural disaster - are often analysed as disorderly events that suspend development and disrupt people's lives. Over the last decade, scholarship on macro-dynamics of crises has been complemented by a growing interest in micro-dynamics at local level. Yet these valuable contributions are often based on analytical categories developed in relation to the crisis - IDPs, gender-based violence, peace-keeping etc.
Less attention is paid to how society functions, structures itself and interacts with people's everyday lives during crisis. Though some academics have risen to the challenge, scholarship on such themes remains sporadic, both within and across disciplines.
This panel brings together academics with different thematic, area and disciplinary expertise to explore politics writ-small. In particular, it considers those social actors, institutions, norms and practices which order local realities and strongly affect the range of constraints and opportunities people face. In turn, panelists ask how these varied factors interact with key crisis and power dynamics and discuss their outcomes.
Understanding structure and order in crises; what forms it takes; how it interacts with and influences everyday lives, as well as power and crisis dynamics themselves, are important questions. They relate directly to people's lived-experience and point to continuities and transformations which significantly mark both crises and post-crisis landscapes.
In order to reach a wider audience, the panel aims to propose a special issue (journal to be confirmed) and contribute to the policy-oriented work of the DFID-funded Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Boko Haram and the crisis in North-East Nigeria
The Boko Haram insurgency in north-east Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin has displaced more than 2 million people and led to large-scale loss of life. This paper explores the social impacts of the insurgency and the responses of the region's diverse population.
The Boko Haram insurgency in north-east Nigeria and the wider Lake Chad basin has generated one of the most severe humanitarian crises in the world today. More than 2 million people have been displaced and tens of thousands, or perhaps in excess of a hundred thousand, have been killed in the conflict since 2009. This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork across a wide area of north-east Nigeria and in border areas of Niger and Cameroon, carried out from 2012 to 2016. It explores the social impacts of the crisis among different sections of the population and 'life under Boko Haram' in areas that were for some time controlled by the insurgents. It looks at the local responses of farmers, pastoralists, traders, and educational institutions to the crisis. The insurgency has been fought in one of the most ethno-linguistically diverse parts of Africa and among a religiously plural population that has a Muslim majority and substantial Christian minority. It has had varied but probably long-term impacts on inter-ethnic, inter-faith and gender relations in the region. The level of recruitment into Boko Haram varied between communities, but as armed resistance increased the conflict ramified and the violence became more extreme. While much writing on Boko Haram focuses on the movement's ideology and the general pattern of violence, this paper seeks to analyse the insurgency through the lens of local populations. The paper concludes by analysing reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts of the Nigerian state and donors.
The struggle for 'normality' within a continuum of violence: an everyday view from the Peruvian Amazon
I explore the everyday pursuit of wellbeing as a return to normality among Ashaninka people in the Amazon, in the context of their experience of a continuum of war started by Peru's civil war (1980-2000) followed by the extractive agenda set by the state as its backbone to post-war reconstruction.
Ashaninka people, members of an indigenous Amazonian society, had a horrendous experience of the Peruvian civil war (1980-2000), which was followed by the Peruvian state's violently extractive reconstruction agenda. Upon their return to the territories they fled during war, survivors found that a large part of their legally titled communities has been granted in concessions to multinational oil and gas companies, or invaded by coca growers (for cocaine production). More recently, the state had imposed plans to build mega hydroelectric dams in their valleys.
In this paper I explore what the everyday looks like in a context described to me by an Ashaninka leader as a 'past that won't pass', a context in which war and extractivism have merged into one continuum of violence.
How is normality or a return to sociality in the everyday sought within this continuum of violence? How are 'normal' social and socio-natural relations remade within this continuum? What does wellbeing look like in this continuum and how is it pursued?
Based on nine years of ethnographic fieldwork in Ashaninka villages, I will explore these questions through my collaborators' notions of 'living well together', being 'real people', their approaches to fixing the relations with the socio-natural world that have been undone by violence, and their desire to make money to pay for new necessities. In this context, the everyday becomes dedicated to pursuing an approach to collective wellbeing based on an idea of collectivity that includes both their human and other-than-human neighbours.
Moving toward "home": love and relationships in the aftermath of war and displacement
Following the tentative end of hostilities within northern Uganda in 2006 and gradual return of the Acholi population after mass displacement, this paper examines how a “new normal” in post-war romances is evolving through three main concepts: movement, performance and material exchanges.
During the two-decades long war (1986-2006) over 90% of the Acholi population in northern Uganda were moved, often forcibly, into overcrowded camps for internally displaced people. In Acholi life privacy is generally very limited, while public accountability is valued. In the camp private space shrunk even further and public accountability was undermined by anonymity. These experiences entailed profound disruptions to "normal" Acholi orderings of life. Yet in in the post-war period, perhaps surprisingly, there are evident continuities alongside discontinuities and transformations to the norms surrounding relationships between men and women.
Building on over seven years of ethnographic work in northern Uganda, this paper examines the roles of imagination and performance, intimacy, and social belonging as a "new normal" in post-war romances is evolving. It does this through three main concepts: movement, performance and material exchanges.
The processual nature of relationships is well documented in Africanist anthropology. This paper proposes that in the aftermath of war Acholi relationships might be better characterized by movements — movements that are fluid, not necessarily sequential or with a pre-determined trajectory. This paper examines "movements" in relationships between public and private spaces against the backdrop of wider societal movements from the moral spaces of camp to home.
Further it argues that relationships between men and women are negotiated through and beyond embodied practices in these spaces in ways that are not always spoken. Rather, love and intimacy are reimagined through performance (such as dance) and through negotiation (often in the forms of material exchanges).
Crisis as a catalyst for social transformation: women's civic and political engagement in Somalia
We consider the ways in which periods of crisis in Somalia's history have contributed to the transformation of gender roles and civic and political engagement by women.
The years leading up to and since the collapse of the Somali state have seen dramatic shifts in gender roles. The social transformation has been at least partly driven by prolonged periods of crisis of varying types (although we dispute the widely held notion that Somalia is an unvariegated crisis zone). In this paper, based on our research with more than 50 women engaged in a range of forms of public engagement, we explore the ways in which crisis has shaped the evolution of women's activism and identities. We argue that much of the change that can be seen is consistent, rather than a rupture, with traditional gender norms. While taking a variety of forms, women's engagement can be broadly understood as extensions of principles of service and responsibility that have been adapted in the context of war, displacement, economic insecurity, and political crisis.
Parallel states, public services, and the competition for legitimacy in Kosovo
How do those on the receiving end of governance provision engage with multiple sources of public authority? I find that in Kosovo, the language of ‘survival’ and ‘victimhood’ with regard to ‘parallel’ public services has both constrained individual agency and buttressed community solidarity.
Recent work has highlighted that even in the most enfeebled state public goods and services are being provided, though often not by the state itself. Much of the literature has focused on the authorities providing these goods rather than the agency of those on the receiving end.
Less examined, however, is how governance, authority, and claims to legitimacy are experienced from 'the bottom up'. In cases where there is a plurality of actors, how do the supposed beneficiaries (or victims) of governance engage with these multiple sources of public authority? Why would they choose one over the other? These decisions are important. Whether individuals choose to engage or not with the public goods provided by competing public authorities is a crucial component in how these actors seek to legitimate themselves. This in turn has a critical role to play in determining the governance landscape and the particular contours of the state formation process itself.
The recent history of Kosovo provides an opportunity to approach these questions. This study focuses on how various public services were delivered over two broad periods of 'governance pluralism' in Kosovo, from the Kosovar Albanian 'parallel state' of the Milosevic era to the present state of Kosovo's independence and rise and persistence of the Kosovar Serb 'parallel institutions'. This study aims to understand the motivations and decision-making processes of Serbs and Albanians in interactions with health, education and justice providers. It finds that decisions were, and continue to be, mediated through metaphors of 'survival' and 'victimhood'.
Networks of Support and Associative life in eastern DR Congo
The paper presents some of the functions, interactions and outcomes of associative life and networks of support used by people in Masisi and considers their implication for key social processes, including violence itself.
The paper situates itself within a wider research project on institutions, networks and social processes in areas of mass violence and chronic insecurity.
Using a case study of Masisi, a volatile territory in eastern DR Congo, the wider research explores how people experience and negotiate daily life in such contexts and asks how society and social structures reciprocally affect levels, patterns and expression of violence.
Through the entry point of livelihood-based associations and self-help groups, the paper presents some of the functions, interactions and outcomes of associative life in Masisi and considers their implication for key social processes, including violence itself.
Community-based health insurance in DRC
This paper is about social protection mechanisms during crisis and examines two community-based health insurance schemes that are meant to enable participants to avail of health services in conflict-affected Democratic Republic of Congo.
During the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, a number of humanitarian agencies provided free health services, yet even in those years most health care was organised in a cost-recovery way and clients had to pay for the consultations and medicines. In view of dire poverty, a number of organisations in these years have set up community-based health insurance systems, or Mutuelles de Santé (MUS). They have the dual objective of providing social protection to the poor and to enable the operation of the health services by creating its clientele.
This paper examines two schemes, in rural Katana and in semi-urban Uvira. Research concerned their everyday working, and their success in terms of participation and health service provision. The Katana mechanism has been gradually growing in membership, whereas the Uvira mechanism has been losing participants after an initial set-up period. The paper finds major explanations for this difference on the one hand in the substantial costs of the insurance and confusion among the population, and on the other on institutional factors such as the level of support extended to the mechanisms.
The paper raises questions about the durability of these mechanisms in the absence of a regulating state, unless there is a strongly organised alternative supporter of the scheme such as an international NGO. One of the conclusions of the paper is that the community-based - rather than citizen driven - nature of the mechanisms may stand in the way of building a constituency for social protection in conflict-affected DRC.
Wartime speculation: land acquisition and property rights institutions in Eastern Congo's urban centers
Conflict alters everyday economic incentives and drives institutional change. This paper explores these phenomena through the lens of real estate markets and property rights institutions in eastern Congo's urban areas, drawing from historical institutionalist theories of political development.
Conflict alters everyday economic incentives and drives institutional change in cities. This paper explores these phenomena through the lens of real estate markets and property rights institutions in eastern Congo's urban areas. These cities have experienced dramatic demographic growth and spatial expansion over the past two decades of instability and warfare. Conflict-induced urbanization has rendered the regions' property markets increasingly lucrative and, consequently, produced speculation and competition among private sector actors vying for ownership of urban land. New institutions, or, "rules of the game," are layered over prior ones as state and non-state governing authorities attempt to manage an increasingly valuable and capitalized asset. This paper draws from empirical data gathered in Beni and Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, to explore cases of institutional change. In the first case, formal property rights institutions are layered on top of customary institutions, while in the latter case a neo-customary institution, the Baraza Intercommunautaire, is foisted upon extant state institutions to produce a de facto land management system. Drawing from historical institutionalist notions of path dependence, this paper concludes that everyday institutions that emerge in periods of conflict-urbanization are capable of sustaining long-range impacts on urban development and governance.
Transnational livelihoods and the Somali diaspora
This paper explores the transformation of Somali society into transnational networks through the agency of two actors; these actors and networks reflect both a history of crisis as well as a continued engagement with crisis as they pursue their developmental goals and livelihood strategies.
Much of Somali society in the Horn of Africa is incorporated into near continual processes of 'crisis'; subject to political volatility, conflict as well as natural disasters. One of the outcomes of this context has been and remains very high levels of displacement, mobility as well as the evolution of a highly significant regional and global diaspora population/s. This paper takes up the case of two individual actors who are embedded within that history and landscape. From their physical location in an urban U.K. context, these individuals are explored for their agency in relation to multiple settings; the UK, Ethiopia and Somalia. Their 'simultaneous incorporation' into social and political processes located both in a destination country and transnationally is the 'every day normal' of Somali society and is part of a reformulation of society and politics beyond the borders of the nation state. The paper explores the multiple identities, technologies, organisations and networks through which agency is expressed; these include clan and national identities, 'community' organisations, a mosque and a website, each with different local and transnational meaning. The notions of social fields and social remittances are drawn upon in order to help define and locate these processes, which are also analysed as expressions of livelihood.
Losing and remaking home following conflict and displacement
Drawing on the narratives of internally displaced people in Colombia, this paper explores the extent to which those who flee following conflict remake home. The paper's overarching argument is that despite displacement consistently results in the loss of home, home can be remade on the move.
Drawing on the narratives of 72 participants who in the aftermath of conflict have fled within Colombia, this paper explores the extent to which and, in which ways, those who flee following conflict remake home. The paper's overarching argument is that despite displacement consistently results in a significant loss of home, home can be remade on the move. Analysis of detailed interviews shows that following displacement, the process of remaking home not only entails the reconstruction of a material shelter but foremost the reconstruction of a social world, a familiar landscape, and the emotional and existential feeling of being at 'home'. Material and symbolic dimensions of well-being therefore play a central role in the reconstruction of home. Indeed, for many, the reconstruction of home signified the reconstruction of their place in the world. The empirical findings also show that the reconstruction of home is in part shaped by experiences of violence, the extent and persistence of persecution, and the ethnic identity and life stage of those compelled to move. Many of those who have fled after being raped or having witnessed relative being killed, consistently struggle to remake home. The same appears to be true for those who belong to black and indigenous communities and who tend to root home in their 'ancestral land' and the elderly who aspire to die 'at home'. The paper ends by highlighting that both social constraints and individual decisions and aspirations interplay over time and space in the process of remaking home.
Mobility in crisis: Sub-Saharan migrants in Libya
Focusing on the relationship between localized power structures in a (post-) crisis setting in the EU borderlands and the mobility strategies migrants use, this paper explores how sub-Saharan African migrants in Libya experience a system of serial confinement and economic exploitation.
Sub-Saharan migrants' experiences in Libya highlight a series of sites of confinement characterized by money extortion by a range of actors, including state authorities, smugglers, militia and criminal groups.
This paper is based on several months of ethnographic fieldwork in both Libya and Malta and traces migrants' experiences across these different sites, ranging from spaces in the desert, government-run detention centres, to smugglers' houses and checkpoints. I explore how these domains, where formal and informal activities overlap, are part of the lived worlds of migrants' trajectories and strongly influence the opportunities and constraints they face. How migrants navigate these sites, reconfigure mobility, as well as the effect this has on their aspirations and onward movement is the centre of investigation.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.