List of panels

(P027)

Territory and community: the scalar dimensions of political authority, identity and conflict in contemporary Africa

Location C4.02
Date and Start Time 29 June, 2013 at 14:30

Convenors

Anders Sjögren (The Nordic Africa Institute) email
Henrik Angerbrandt (Stockholm University) email
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Short Abstract

This panel links issues of collective identities and political authority to debates about place and scale. It invites papers that interrogate the interplay between statutory territorial entities, geographical patterns of (under)development and collective identities in the structuring of conflicts.

Long Abstract

Half a century after independence from colonial rule, issues of territorial demarcation, political identity and locus of authority remain deeply contested in most African countries. These matters continue to generate conflicts around constitutive features of states and nations and remain at the heart of political struggles in many societies, even in countries with relatively consolidated boundaries. In addition, regional and global processes are reshaping notions of the relevant and legitimate scale(s) of territory and community.

The aim of this panel is to link issues of formation of collective identities and institutionalised political authority to the debates about the relational character of place and scale. Groups and individuals relate to the central state in different ways, drawing on contested version of territorial and social demarcations. The central state, on its part, endorses certain forms of mobilisation around territory and community, while blocking others. What are the key factors in the interplay between statutory territorial entities, geographical patterns of social and economic (under)development and collective identities in promoting or preventing conflict? How have notions of community been shaped by historical trajectories, and what are the impacts of this for political inclusion/exclusion, representation and authority?

This panel seeks to interrogate these issues by examining cases from across the continent. It welcomes both theoretical and empirical contributions. Comparative efforts, be it through empirical cases or theoretical arguments, are particularly appreciated.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Conservation on contested lands: the communal conservancies in Namibia

Author: Eduard Gargallo (ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)  email
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Short Abstract

Communal Conservancies in Namibia are being used by rural communities as tools for securing access to land in a moment when it is perceived as increasingly scarce. Peasants, Traditional Authorities, the State and conservationists all try to influence the use that will be given to contested lands.

Long Abstract

Communal Conservancies (CCs) in Namibia have been portrayed as a successful example of community conservation in Southern Africa. The aim of this paper is to analyze how CCs are being used by rural communities as tools for gaining or securing access to communal land in a moment when it is perceived as increasingly scarce. Peasants, Traditional Authorities, the State and conservationists all try to influence the use that will be given to contested lands. The paper will focus on two cases: King Nehale Conservancy, a heavily populated mixed agricultural land in North-Central Namibia (Owamboland) and Nyae Nyae Conservancy, a semi-arid land inhabited by a historically marginalized population, the Ju/'hoan San. In King Nehale, the community as a whole has enjoyed reasonably secure land tenure, but now this is perceived as threatened by a growing population and the fencing of land by commercial farmers. The Conservancy is seen as both a way to control this and to regain access to natural resources such as game. Nyae Nyae is the only land in the country officially recognized as belonging to the San, who have used the Conservancy as a way to keep other communities away, with limited success and amid growing conflicts. In both cases Conservancies contribute to an increased control by communities over their land, but also imply the reinforcement of the presence of the State and private capital in communal areas, and become part of the internal struggles among sections of the communities themselves: Traditional Authorities, commercial farmers, women, etc.

Community formation and political contestation in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Author: Henrik Angerbrandt (Stockholm University)  email
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Short Abstract

The aim of the paper is to analyse the ways in which different dimensions of scalar relations are interweaved with the formation of community and political contestations. The paper examines ethnic/religious conflicts in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria with a focus on the Christian groups.

Long Abstract

Kaduna State in northern Nigeria has since the late 1980s suffered frequent violent, 'communal', crises between mainly ethnic Hausa-Fulani Muslims and ethnically mixed Christians. This paper analyses the ways in which the conflict is entangled in different scalar configurations with implications for the formation of communities and the claiming and exercise of political authority. A relational approach to scale and place invites a reconsideration of the community concept. Community formation and the struggle over places rely on relations that go beyond the local or a limited space. Different actors seek to invoke scalar dimensions that support their social and political pursuits. The paper links the scalar discussions to the distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft in order to identify different aspects of how the conflict is structured. Both types of social relations are here seen to have their specific scalar configurations. The analysis focuses on the ways in which the conflict is comprehended from a Christian, 'Southern Kaduna' perspective and draws on fieldwork data. Issues discussed include the basis for religious unity in a historical perspective, different types of authorities and their legitimacy as well as the impact of this for matters of social and political inclusion/exclusion. The paper aims to show how scale and community are important parts of the contested social and political relations in Kaduna State.

Conflict precipitated by human security: the interplay of group identities, territorial demarcation and the role of the state in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria

Author: Olayinka Ajala (University of York)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper examines the roles played by group identities, land issues as well as the central state on human security in resource endowed regions and how this invariably leads to violent conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Long Abstract

In recent years, there has been an increase in violent conflicts in Africa. Although the outbreak of conflict is not peculiar to the African continent, empirical evidence has shown that conflicts in the continent have fairly increased when compared to other 'developing continents'. Issues of territorial demarcation, group identities and the role of the states are some of the factors that lead to violent conflict especially when natural resources are involved. Contrary to the 'traditional causes' of greed and grievance in the escalation of conflict, this paper will argue that the interplay between land issues/territorial demarcation, group identities and the role played by the central state can combine to alter the human security of a community and in response generate violent conflict. Using the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria as a case study, the paper will analyse the role played by the three players in the conflict; the Nigerian state, the Multinational Oil Corporations (MNCs) as well as individual communities in the outbreak and escalation of conflict in the region. The paper will analyse how the availability of natural resources can shape the composition and behaviour of a community depending on the community's relationship with the central state. The paper will then examine the relationship between group identity, political representation or the lack of it and how these lead to human insecurity which invariably leads to conflict. Using theoretical literatures and empirical evidence, the paper will show that the conflict in the region has its root in the resultant human insecurity

Making borders and identities in South Sudan

Author: Ole Frahm (Humboldt-University Berlin)  email
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Short Abstract

The nascent nation-state of South Sudan is shaped by direct linkages between the establishment of boundaries and the development of (political) communities both on the national and on the local level.

Long Abstract

South Sudan as a late-comer to independence and statehood provides a fascinating contrast and intriguing comparison to other African countries' trajectory after decolonization. While secession and the contentious ongoing border demarcation efforts with Sudan help shape national identity, the question of border demarcation, including the current debate over a demilitarized zone, also influence group identities on both sides of the Sudan-South Sudan border (Ngok Dinka, Misseriya, Abyei). At the same time, the establishment of an international border and a defined territory have enabled /freed up sub-national communities (ethnic groups) to establish their own claims against the government of the new territorial entity. The emergence of alternative collective identities is facilitated by the lack of government penetration beyond the few towns, partly explainable by terrible infrastructure, lack of non-military spending, the brutalization of society, mass presence of small arms and vast numbers of returnees that often bring new values, customs and ideas with them. In addition, even during the long war against the North, Southern Sudanese were not united and fought each other - continuing today with inter-tribal raiding and marauding. Curiously, however, almost all sides equally call for an end to 'tribalism' and a common South Sudanese identity as a panacea for the current ills; though sorely lacking in credible solutions to attain it.

Twilight territories: political authority and land formalisation in urban Jigjiga, Ethiopia

Author: Rony Emmenegger (University of Zurich)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper examines how territories and political authority are produced and therefore analyzes land formalization in the city's expansion area. The investigation of how power operates through space aims at contributing to a geographical understanding of state formation processes in African frontiers

Long Abstract

This paper investigates processes of territorialization and state formation in urban Jijgiga. Located in the Ethio-Somali frontier, Jigjiga has been a site for the negotiation of political authority since the early expansion of the Ethiopian state into the Somali-inhabited lowlands in the late 19th century. Since then, government institutions have attempted to institutionalize political authority and to render the lowland population legible through the demarcation of rural and urban space in order to exercise power. These attempts have recently been furthered by the re-formulation of urban planning schemes in order to cope with the rapid ongoing expansion of the city at its margins. However, where rural land is incorporated into an urban perimeter, property relations are re-negotiated and various territories produced. Based on ethnographic field research, this paper analyses the demarcation of property in social and geographical spaces by examining the formalization of land in the city's expansion area. As it illustrates, government institutions have been key sites for claim making and the recognition of urban land as property, where political authority is formed and institutionalized. In addition, the negotiation of property relations also operates through existing and new forms of spatial and material demarcations - on the ground and on paper - through which territories and political authority are produced. In this vein, various actors within, at the interface, and outside the bureaucratic apparatus enact territories and contribute to the formation of political authority. As such, this paper contributes to a better understanding of how power operates through space.

Spatiality, power and peace in Africa: revisiting territorial power-sharing

Authors: Franzisca Zanker (Arnold-Bergstraesser Institute)  email
Claudia Simons (Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung)  email
Andreas Mehler (Arnold Bergstraesser Institute)  email
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Short Abstract

Using fieldwork data from Burundi, DRC, Kenya and Liberia we find a broader definition of territorial power-sharing more useful for understanding conflict resolution. This is reflected in the historical separation of power and spatiality, making “classic” spatial autonomy tools less relevant.

Long Abstract

Power-sharing agreements have become a blueprint solution to end violent conflicts in many world regions, most notably in Africa, despite criticism of their suitability and long-term repercussions. An influential categorization distinguishes four types of power-sharing, one being territorial power-sharing - the only type that intends to affect the local level of conflict dynamics. These local conflict dynamics have often been neglected in the current literature, despite the impact they can have on levels of peacefulness within a country. In order to add to the current debate we argue that a review of the importance of the relationship between spatiality and power in Africa is necessary. Finding that historically control and power over space is not deemed as important as over people, it is of no surprise that federalism especially, but also fully implemented decentralisation policies remain scarce in African post-conflict politics. Nonetheless, a broader understanding of other dimensions of territorial power-sharing - including indirect effects and informal arrangements - permits a more nuanced and sophisticated approach towards its usage as a conflict resolution tool. Informed by our fieldwork in Burundi, DRC, Kenya and Liberia, we show some of the complexities of these broader dimensions of territorial power-sharing.

Recasting "the local" in peacebuilding and post-war governance: illustrations from DRC, Burundi and South Sudan

Authors: Andreas Hirblinger (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies)  email
Claudia Simons (Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper discusses the construction of “the local” in post-war governance. In contrast to conventional uses of the term “local” in the peacebuilding and development research, we suggest turning analysis on the relation between the constitution of local subjectivity, locality and power.

Long Abstract

This paper discusses the construction of local subjectivity and locality in post-war government in Sub-Sahara Africa. We develop a critique of relevant literature on peace-building, post-war governance and development, which prominently draws on the notion of "the local". We claim that scholarly uses of the term "local" are problematic, as they produce essentialising, and orientalist representations of a "local" other. Both practitioners and scholars imagine, construct, and then speak for the local and represent the local as relatively coherent, bounded and stable. The epistemic practices do not only mask complex and powerful political realities, but by themselves become part of the political struggle. We thus claim that" the local" has developed from a marker of scale and into a category of subjectivity. We suggest turning the focus of analysis to the processes of "becoming local". We will draw on post-colonial, feminist and post-structural approaches, as well as on contributions on the relational construction of space and scale. We conceptualize the process of becoming local as constituted by 1) practices of discursive construction 2), legal and administrative institutions, and 3) material factors. We finally develop an analytical perspective on post-war government which sheds light on the conflictual practices of local construction exercised by political actors , and the constant drawing, re-drawing, and trespassing of boundaries between different localities claiming political significance in the post-war polity. The theoretical argument will be illustrated by empirical studies from peacebuilding in the DRC, Burundi and South Sudan.

Rescaling power in Uganda: Buganda-central government relations since 2000

Author: Anders Sjögren (The Nordic Africa Institute)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper analyses the politics of Buganda-central government relations since 2000, and the implications of this for state formation and national identity in Uganda. To that end it examines struggles over territorial demarcations and the (non-)recognition of various cultural-political identities.

Long Abstract

The relations between the central government and Buganda region/kingdom have always shaped Ugandan politics in fundamental ways. The mutual embrace that characterised the relations between Buganda and the NRM government during 1990s gradually deteriorated, with the 2009 riots as a low mark. This process has reactivated contestation over state formation and national identity in Uganda. This paper examines the politics of this since around 2000, with particular attention paid to the scalar dimensions of territory and community. The latter involves struggles over the territorial and administrative demarcations of and within Buganda region, including Kampala city; the loci and scope of authority with regards to these units, the struggles over access to land in Buganda, and the (non-)recognition of various cultural-political identities in Buganda region.

A critical analysis of trajectories in trans-border ethnic mobilisation: the case of Lozi and Chewa of southern Africa

Author: Happy Kayuni (University of the Western Cape and University of Malawi)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper compares and contrasts ethnic mobilisation amongst the Chewa (of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia) and Lozi (of Namibia, Zambia and Angola). The paper, inter alia, asks: to what extent are these differences or similarities politically significant to their respective states?

Long Abstract

The paper aims at analysing whether there is a unique pattern of trans-border ethnic mobilisation. Furthermore, the paper asks: to what extent are these differences or similarities politically significant to their respective states? In this regard, the focus is on the Lozi and Chewa ethnic groups of southern Africa. The Lozi people comprise of 25 to 40 groups whose commonality is history and the Sotho-influenced language. Due to the process of colonization, the Lozi community was divided into three contemporary states of Namibia, Zambia and Angola but the majority are found in Zambia. At the heart of the Lozi tradition is the annual Kuomboka ceremony in which the Lozi King takes central stage. The contemporary Chewa Kingdom on the other hand is a remnant of the pre-colonial Maravi Kingdom which stretched across Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique (but the majority are in Malawi). Like the Lozi, the Chewa King is also based in Zambia and they hold an annual ceremony known as Kulamba which draws Chewa people from the three countries. Specifically, using secondary and primary data drawn from diverse sources, the paper finds that there are several similarities and differences in the Lozi and Chewa ethnic mobilisation. Among other things, both dwell on the symbol of their King as the central unifying factor; however, the Lozi have developed a more comprehensive political identity as compared to the Chewa. Despite this significant difference, the paper argues that the Chewa seem to be closely following the pattern of Lozi mobilisation.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.