EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution

(P033)

Conflicts and social violence in an interconnected and uncertain world

Location S-428
Date and Start Time 03 August, 2014 at 09:00

Convenors

Sylvie Ayimpam (Institut des Mondes Africains (IMAf)) email
Roberto Beneduce (University of Turin) email
Jacky Bouju ( Aix Marseille Université) email
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Short Abstract

This panel aims to understand the role of ordinary violence and its dynamics in the reordering of social relationships in our interconnected and uncertain societies : conflicts and related ordinary violence expressions in different social settings in different parts of the world.

Long Abstract

This panel is concerned with the role of ordinary social violence in the emergence of what one could characterize as a "culture of uncertainty" that deeply sways social bonds and the individual conception of future, wealth or work of people. It is fashionable to say that new forms of intimacy are generated through intensified interconnected modes of cooperation. But, should it be assumed that these interconnections favour quiet and informed interrelations? In contemporary societies — characterized by sharp economic inequalities, social fragmentation and cultural heterogeneity — uncertainty also arise from the interconnection with the rest of the world. One of the main issues about the "intimacy of interconnected worlds" concerns consent: is it wanted by both sides and chosen with free consent ? If not really consented, intimacy can generate tensions and conflicts revealing power inequalities and interests discrepancies giving way to ordinary violence. The objective is to understand the role of ordinary violence and its dynamics in the reordering of social relationships in interconnected and uncertain societies. One of the issues concerns its potentiality: does ordinary violence open opportunities for the re-ordering of social relationships and world visions? Or, does it have disruptive and uncontrollable effects on social order? The contributions expected in this panel should be grounded on fieldwork records of uncertainty conceptions, conflicts and related ordinary violence expressions in different social settings in different parts of the world: life histories, case studies of witchcraft accusation, land tenure and inheritance conflicts, conflicts between neighbours, parents, friends or colleagues, etc.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Violence, witchcraft and justice in Central Africa: the uncertainty of proof of guilty and innocence in witchcraft accusations (R.D. Congo, Central African Republic)

Authors: Sylvie Ayimpam (Institut des Mondes Africains (IMAf))  email
Jacky Bouju ( Aix Marseille Université)  email

Short Abstract

This paper concentrates on the issues of witchcraft and spiritual beliefs. They contribute to produce imaginaries of “mystical” ways of enrichment and many kinds of violence.

Long Abstract

This paper will concentrate on the issues of rationality in some witchcraft affairs. It is grounded on two training programs : the first on "witchcraft, violence and criminality" for High Courts Magistrates in Central African Republic funded by the European Union (2009-2011) and the second on Conflicts and Ordinary Violence (2007-2011) funded by French Research Agency. In Central Africa, witchcraft and spiritual beliefs contribute to the production of Development imaginaries and specifically to "mystical" ways of enrichment far different from the classical premises of instrumental rationality governing international development programs. Yet, people's rationality is instrumental as they choose and implement actions that steer the future toward outcomes ranked higher in their preferences. Indeed, they maximize the convergence between their beliefs and reality and they act on these beliefs in such a manner as to maximize their chances of achieving their main goal: enrichment. But, the problem is that they are believed do so through magical beliefs and invisible actions and not through technical knowledge and visible actions as international development agencies would expect. The local theory about the mastery of these magical technics usually involves witchcraft practices that are considered by local traditions and by law as a great crime and therefore fought with greatest violence.

Violence of witchcraft and inter-religious violence in the Central African Republic (2005-2014)

Author: Andrea Ceriana Mayneri (EHESS Paris)  email

Short Abstract

Starting from some fieldwork carried out in the Central African Republic from 2005 to the present day, this contribution seeks to analyse the inter-religious violence that has been affecting the country from 2012 as an extension of the violence normally exercised against those accused of witchcraft

Long Abstract

The inter-religious violence that exploded in the Central African Republic at the end of 2012 has been described by the mass media as a clash between the Christian and Muslim communities. While violence is increasing in the country, a reading of the crisis in terms of a religious clash proves inappropriate for explaining the real reasons underlying this widespread violence. My research in the CAR from 2005 to the present has allowed me to analyze the violence of the accusations of witchcraft that are launched against an "other" - a neighbour, a colleague, a member of one's own family - who is accused of being responsible for the ills and misfortunes that strike individuals and communities. An analysis of the violence of witchcraft and the violence of the inter-religious accusations allows us to shed light on the similarities and to conjecture a continuity between the two forms of violence. The "other" accused of witchcraft has gradually become a religious other (the Muslim or the Christian) as part of a discourse that is influenced, not only by economic and political interests, but by the rhetoric of the Pentecostal churches, with their obsessive insistence on the presence of evil and the need to combat it on every front. In this contribution I shall try to show how some of the combatants in the CAR (2013-2014) perceive this struggle as a "mystic" clash, fought with the weapons of witchcraft against an enemy, an "other" who is close at hand and persecutory

Ontologies of violence: fighting with harmful traditions in Gurunsi widowhood rites

Author: Marko Veisson (University of Helsinki)  email

Short Abstract

Widowhood rituals that are a part of traditional funerals in North-Eastern Ghana are accused of violence against widows. I will discuss how much this critique may be a result of differences between modern (Christian) and traditional understanding of body, personhood and ontology of violence.

Long Abstract

In the last decades modernising Gurunsi society in North-Eastern Ghana has been faced with changes like Christianization and increasing power of NGOs and the state government. These changes have brought new critical questions about traditional religious practices and traditional social structure. Practitioners of traditional religion are in a situation, where they have to give answers in completely new discourses influenced by the rhetoric of human rights and Christian moral.

Both critics and traditionalists are influenced by an understanding of the value of culture and tradition as such. Ghana is also proud of being religiously tolerant. So what is under critique is not traditionalism as a whole, but rather some violent (or mentally violent) and immoral practices of traditionalists.

My fieldwork has concentrated on discussions about widowhood rites and widow's social position, which are important topics in this discourse, together with other harmful practices, such as witchcraft accusations. However, how well grounded are the accusations against traditionalists? It can be asked, whether widowhood rights are actually violence from the viewpoint of the traditionalists? Defining moral violence in another ontological system is problematic. In order to understand the local traditional viewpoint we have to take into account among other things the ways in which Western/Christian moral differs from traditional. For example, how does a different ontology of body and personhood influence the understanding of what happens during a ritual and whether what happens is interpreted as violence by the participants.

Coming to terms with the present: land disputes as social spaces for redefining the rules of living together in the aftermath of the Sierra Leonean war

Author: Anais Ménard (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)  email

Short Abstract

This paper shows how local disputes, particularly those related to land on the Peninsula of Freetown (Sierra Leone), open up new social spaces for people to talk about the Sierra Leonean war and redefine the rules of living together with reference to past violence.

Long Abstract

The decade-long civil war (1991-2002) in Sierra Leone produced profound ruptures in social and family bonds. Rebel intimidation tactics such as rape, maiming and execution shattered provincial communities. The conflict also caused massive population displacements, transforming the ways people perceive their attachments to local networks. On the Peninsula of Freetown, permanent in-migrations have considerably reshaped the contours of social and political relationships. Towards the end of the war and during the following decade in particular, Sierra Leoneans from the interior moved to Freetown and nearby coastal communities in search of new opportunities. With rising demand for land, tensions have developed between local populations and settlers, stirring autochthonous claims and exclusive definitions of ethnicity. Land pressure causes disputes between relatives and long-standing neighbors. In the context of changing demography, tensions appear between populations who consider themselves autochthonous and well-established pre-war migrants, who start to lay claims to land that they previously considered belonging to local communities. Yet, this paper argues that local land disputes open up a new social space for discussing issues of inter- and intra-community violence. Land disputes, as they involve people who know each other well, have a short-term disruptive character for social life. Yet, they are also privileged spaces to talk about changing relations between individuals and between groups. Local land disputes allow people to reflect on the violence of the Sierra Leonean conflict, its consequences on contemporary social life, and to redefine the rules of living together in a rapidly changing socio-political context.

Conflicts inside NGOs for prevention of domestic violence in Tajikistan

Author: Lucia Direnberger (Université Paris Diderot)  email

Short Abstract

This paper analyses conflicts between NGO members (female secular employees and religious leaders) who act for the prevention of domestic violence in Tajikistan.

Long Abstract

After the collapse of the USSR and civil war researchers observe and analyze violence domestic which is a mass phenomenon in Tadjikistan. For several years now local NGOs working in the field of prevention of domestic violence and supported by international donors have been working with mullahs.

Based on ethnographic research (interviews and participant observations) in NGOs between 2010 and 2012 in south of Tajikistan, I would like to anlayse tensions and conflicts produced by collaborations between NGOs' members. Althought local NGOs and international donors promote this collaboration, during my fieldwork I observed contradictory positions. Religious leaders working in these NGOs do not share the same positions on gender issues : women's access to education, political participation and divorce. Moreover some female employees do not agree with mullahs' positions on divorce, polygamy and abortion.

So I propose to analyse these conflicts between different actors, only visible at the intimacy and interrelation level, and their impacts on constructions of new forms of citizenship. Because of corruption and because of these violences are considered as a private matter by police, lawyers and judges, because of fear of repression, a lot of spaces of public sphere denied domestic violence. So conflicts inside NGO for prevention of domestic violence remain inside NGO sphere which constitute uncertain space for activist women to bargain forms of male domination because of mollah's presence.

An interconnected dimension of daily violence: how is experience of violence influenced by ICT?

Authors: Mirjam de Bruijn (Leiden University)  email
Adamou Amadou (Leiden University)  email

Short Abstract

In the border zones of Middle Africa Violence does not allow people to move, or they get stuck in refugee camps. In this situation accessibility of mobile telephony has been an interesting but ambiguous alternative to cope with life and identity in a constraint situation of forced immobility.

Long Abstract

The point of departure is the border zones of Middle Africa where we have been witnessing horrible violence as a consequence of state collapse. This violence can be understood in a long history of war and oppression that is unfortunately part of the region's dynamics. Today people have to stay in place because violence does not allow them to move, or they get stuck in refugee camps. This forced immobility is contradicting the dynamics of previous forced displacement. Hence immobility becomes a form of violence for those who are used to move. But for them accessibility of mobile telephony has been an interesting but ambiguous interference with their violent immobility to cope with life and identification. However, mobile phones may also be carriers of messages and rumours that are part of and perpetuate conflict dynamics. These information flows will contain people in their immobility. We are interested how this tool to communicate, link up and carry information feeds into the feelings of (im)mobility of the immobile mobiles and how this plays on their sociality and psychology. Whether this leads to experiencing more or less violence/violent acts is at the core of this paper.

Des savoirs au pouvoir. Réalisation quotidienne de la violence de l'Etat - au départ des cas de conflits fonciers entre les paysans et les élites politiques

Author: Aymar Nyenyezi Bisoka (Université catholique de Louvain)  email

Short Abstract

Nous étudions la réalisation quotidienne de la violence dans le domaine foncier. Si les intérêts des élites constituent la raison principale des violations qui en résultent, les savoirs produits par l’Etat et les logiques qui les sous-tendent en facilitent la réalisation.

Long Abstract

A partir des cas concrets de conflits fonciers étudiés entre 2013 et 2014 en Afrique des grands lacs, le présent article tente de comprendre la manière dont les réformes foncières (règles et savoirs) étatiques génèrent de la violence dans des contextes pluralistes. En partant d'une brève analyse socio-historique, l'article revient tout d'abord sur les violences qui ont participé de la construction et de l'imposition des dispositifs fonciers en Afrique des grands lacs depuis leur déclenchement en 1884 (1). L'article revient ensuite sur la manière dont les résistances aux cadres légaux importés et imposés ont suggéré des formes de normes pratiques et de normes hybrides qui ont reconfiguré les cadres juridiques foncières dans un souci de cohabitation (2). L'article se concentre enfin sur des études de cas précis qui montrent la manière dont les intérêts et le pouvoir des élites politiques violent les droits des paysans en dérogeant régulièrement à ces arrangements socio-institutionnels. Si les intérêts des élites en question constituent la raison principale de cette violation, les savoirs produits par l'Etat et les logiques qui les sous-tendent en facilitent la réalisation (3).

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.