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Political Violence

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Ethnicity and political violence: The challenge to the Burundi state

Patricia Daley / Political Geography / 2006


This paper contributes to debates on the crisis of the African state, particularly the challenge posed by the rent-seeking elite, ethnicity and political violence. In most accounts, Burundi's persistent civil war fits contemporary discourse of the failed neo-patrimonial state in which opportunistic elites mobilize ethnicity for economic gain. Drawing on recent theorising on the politicization of identities and their intersection with state formation, the paper examines historically the development of ethnic consciousness and its links to the Burundi state.

Wars do end! Changing patterns of political violence in sub-Saharan Africa

Scott Straus / African Affairs / March 1, 2012


Contrary to common assumption, major forms of large-scale organized political violence in sub-Saharan Africa are declining in frequency and intensity, and the region is not uniquely prone to the onset of warfare. African civil wars in the late 2000s were about half as common compared to the mid-1990s. The character of warfare has also changed. Contemporary wars are typically small-scale, fought on state peripheries and sometimes across multiple states, and involve factionalized insurgents who typically cannot hold significant territory or capture state capitals. 

The hidden costs of power-sharing: Reproducing insurgent violence in Africa

Denis M. Tull and Andres Mehler  / African Affairs / Carol Simons March 2012


This article analyzes some factors underlying the spread of insurgent violence in Africa. It focuses on the impact external factors have on power struggles on the continent. The first of these is the unsteady support for democracy from Western donors, which has impeded more far-reaching domestic changes in much of Africa. Second are wider changes in the international setting that dramatically enhanced the international standing of armed movements in the post-1989 period. The article argues that the interplay of both factors has induced would-be leaders to conquer state power by violent rather than non-violent means.

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