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The Economics of Ethnic Conflict

The Economics of Ethnic Conflict: The Case of Burkina Faso

Andreas Dafinger
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    The Economics of Ethnic Conflict
    Book Description:

    Through richly detailed anthropological case studies of the rural economics and administrative policies in Burkina Faso, and reassessment of current models of conflict, resource management and modern administration, this book explores the current political, economic and social transformation of Western Africa. Ethnic tensions, the case studies suggest, are a strategic part of social and economic local relations - a pattern that is repeated when ethnic stereotyping finds its way into the higher echelons of national administration and of international development cooperation. Conflicts are shown to be ethnicized by local and administrative elites, creating screens impenetrable to those involved in the states' formal administration, and behind which informal local economies thrive. In these 'concealed economies' individuals exploit the ethnic divide by hiding friendly and profitable inter-ethnic relations behind a rhetoric of ethnic tensions and staged conflict. Cultivating ties across ethnic divides is not limited, however, to rural relations but becomes common practice at almost all levels of national and civil administration. Andreas Dafinger is Associate Professor of Social Anthropology at the Central European University, Budapest. He has worked on Burkina Faso for almost twenty years.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-161-0
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. List of Acronyms
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. Vernacular Expressions (in Bisa)
    (pp. x-x)
  7. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  8. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    In the two decades since the end of the cold war the world has seen a profound change in the way conflicts are perceived. Conflicts appear smaller in scale, larger in number, and more local in scope. Having lost the support of a clear-cut world order, public perception and the media have had to find ways of explaining and categorizing these new conflicts, which were often no longer wars between nation states or national alliances. Conflicts are often perceived as directed against the state and most violence as insurgencies against the state’s monopoly of warfare, power and jurisdiction. Wars are...

  9. 2 The logic of global relations: Burkina Faso, Boulgou and the world
    (pp. 23-55)

    This chapter locates Burkina Faso on the global map and introduces the historical, ecological and political background of the research area – the southern province of Boulgou – and its connection with the wider region. International relations and the local national political landscape will be related to the country’s position in the global political and economic network. Most of the modernization projects encountered are part of a wider international discourse: local intra-and inter-ethnic relations are largely framed by a development discourse that is determined by the country’s historical and recent positioning in the global system. UsingWallerstein’s (1974; 2004 a and b) ‘world...

  10. 3 Sharing the land: The ethnic division of labour
    (pp. 56-101)

    In Boulgou, as in most of rural sub-Saharan Africa, land is a major, if not the major, source of social control. The power to allocate land establishes a social hierarchy and a fabric of mutual dependencies. All parts of society refer to land in some way and are part of a complex field that spans those who hold land (the ‘landed’) to those who do not (the ‘landless’): all groups and individuals in this field are related to each other in terms of their relative entitlement to the land. As opposed to the notion of ownership, which implies an abstract,...

  11. 4 Conflict
    (pp. 102-135)

    The ethnic boundary is a precondition for the ethnic division of labour, which is at the heart of Boulgou’s agro-pastoral economy. It generates cross-cutting ties, built on trust and friendship. This boundary is also a zone of confrontation and conflict and this chapter will turn to the analysis of the more conflictual side of the ethnic boundary. It will show how conflict helps to maintain the illusion of an impermeable divide and will identify the actors that profit from this concealment.

    Anthropological conflict studies have predominantly dealt with conflict as occurrences of violent clashes and warfare. As I outlined in...

  12. 5 Concealed economies: The hidden dimension of conflict and cooperation
    (pp. 136-180)

    This chapter will turn to the economy of the ethnic boundary. While publicly exploited as a source of conflict, the ethnic divide simultaneously provides a space for social, political and economic activities outside local communities and kin groups. Ethnicity is also an important argument when dealing with bureaucracy and development organizations. The first part of the chapter engages with the hidden ethnic economy of rural agro-pastoral production systems, after which the focus is on ethnicity and national bureaucratic practice.

    Previous examples have shown how the ethnic divide provides a screen behind which farmers hide their cattle and withhold them from...

  13. 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 181-184)

    This book began by looking at the question of whether the world has seen a growth in local, small-scale conflicts over the past decades. It suggested looking instead at the increased interest in such local conflicts. The previous chapters have shown the changes in the way these conflicts are framed and perceived; defining criteria, such as ethnic stereotyping and the ethnic division of labour, are not only historically rooted categories of a local economy but also responses to a national and global discourse over ethnicity. On the one hand, strategies of accessing and controlling local resources build on the delineation...

  14. References
    (pp. 185-204)
  15. Index
    (pp. 205-212)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 213-213)