African Studies Association 2018 Annual Meeting: Caution, “High Voltage”: Dynamic Fields of Conflict Intervention in Africa
Katharina Döring & Jens Herpolsheimer (SFB 1199, Leipzig U)
|Date||Thursday, 29 November 2018 – Saturday, 1 December 2018|
|Contact||Jens Herpolsheimer (SFB 1199, Leipzig U) | email@example.com|
Caution, “high voltage”: Dynamic fields of conflict intervention in Africa
Recent violent conflict in Africa, once more, have powerfully brought home the point that they need to be understood and analyzed as inherently “global”. Violent Jihadist groups in the Sahel, while often embedded in specific “local” contexts, often frame their action as part of a “global agenda”, and know how to link them to international economic and political interests. On the one hand, this has led to the perception or framing of transnational terrorism and organized crime in Africa as “global” threats. On the other hand, it has resulted in a variety of interventions by a vast array of actors, most importantly African regional organizations, the EU, or the UN, as well as some of their member states. Striving to find “lasting solutions” or at least to “contain” these conflicts, these actors have spent a lot of energy, producing dynamic fields of complex interaction. However, the consequences of these dynamics are still insufficiently understood.
Therefore, in this panel, we seek to address recent violent conflicts in Africa in their various regional and global entanglements. In particular, we are interested in the diverse and often complex ways in which regional and international actors have coalesced and engaged each other in and around these conflicts – at the same time reflecting “global” outward “radiation” (i.e. as perceptions and framings of threats) of as well as persistent “external” involvement in African conflict. Touching upon these issues, empirically grounded contributions with a theoretical aim are welcome.
Conveners: Jens Herpolsheimer and Katharina Döring
Constructing and ordering regional space(s): ECOWAS and AU practices of conflict intervention in Guinea-Bissau and beyond
Since the mid-2000s, Guinea-Bissau has come to questionable fame due to the narrative framing as Africa’s first (and foremost) “narco-state”, closely linked to “narco-terrorism” (or a “drug-terror nexus”). Surprisingly, this high level of attention in the media and by policy makers, as well as related conflict interventions by various actors in Guinea-Bissau, so far, are not well researched. Most importantly, the reasoning, practices and interactions of different regional and international actors intervening in the country have received only scant scholarly attention. Therefore, drawing on qualitative field research conducted in Addis Ababa, Abuja, Bissau, and Dakar, this paper looks at the responses of ECOWAS and the AU, and how those have related to interventions by other actors in Guinea-Bissau. Its main contention is that “space” has played a central role not only in framing conflict in the country, but also as a dimension of intervention practices, a strategic resource in negotiating relations between different stakeholders, and an objective in itself (i.e. constructing / ordering regional space(s)). Thus, adding a new analytical lens, the paper also points beyond Guinea-Bissau, contributing to a better understanding and theorization of logics and practices of intervention by African regional organizations in conflicts on the continent.
In search of military means: The energetic effects of African-led deployments in Mali and the Sahel
This contribution analyses the changes introduced to the frame of the African Standby Force (ASF) after the African-led intervention in Mali in 2013. Focus are the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises, the proposal for an intervention force in the frame of the Nouakchott Process, and the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
Based on research in, inter alia, Addis Ababa, Abuja, and Bamako this contribution harnesses insights from political geography to analyse how actors used spatial formats to legitimise certain types of military deployment or to pursue a more fundamental re-spatialization of the ASF’s five regions.
The paper argues that the global entanglements during the African-led intervention in Mali – e.g. through a French-led deployment and a subsequent United Nations mission – led to a broader renegotiation of how the African Union does and should intervene militarily. It gave new impetus to a trend towards offensive operations and counter terrorism; revived debates about subsidiarity, ownership and dependence; and revealed tensions among member states and AU organs like the Commission.
Analysing the struggle for both, the particular military deployments in Mali as well as the continental frame of the ASF, reveals the complex security politics among African actors and their global embeddedness.
Katharina Döring (SFB 1199,Leipzig U, Germany)
Katharina Döring is a doctoral student at the University of Leipzig (Germany) and researcher at the SFB project B7 investigating new regionalisms and violent conflict in Africa. She studied within the Erasmus Mundus MA programme “Global Studies – A European Perspective” at the universities of Leipzig, Addis Ababa, and Roskilde and focused on international studies, new political geography, and global history. Currently, she explores the potential of a space-sensitive perspective for understanding the responses of the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) towards the Malian crisis in 2012.
Jens Herpolsheimer (SFB 1199, Leipzig U, Germany)
Jens Herpolsheimer is a doctoral student at Leipzig University (Germany) and researcher at the SFB project B7 investigating “new regionalisms” and violent conflict in Africa. His research focuses on the interventions in Guinea-Bissau by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU). He studied African Studies (BA and MA) at Leipzig University (Germany), the Sciences Po Bordeaux (France) and the Centro de Estudos Internacionais of ISCTE-IUL (CEI-IUL) in Lisbon (Portugal). His research interests include peace and security, African politics, comparative regionalisms, and lusophone Africa.