Making War in Côte d'Ivoire
Mike McGovern University of Chicago Press, 2011 Library of Congress DT545.84.M346 2010 | Dewey Decimal 966.68052
After a brief period of active combat in 2002, the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire settled into a pattern of neither war nor peace until the 2010 elections led to a new phase of direct conflict. During these taut years, short bursts of intense violence alternated with long periods of standoff. When things were peaceful, the Ivorian political elite and the press produced inflammatory rhetoric while soldiers and militias used the state of emergency as an excuse to shake down civilians at roadblocks. What kept this perpetually tense, dismal, and destructive situation simmering? In this groundbreaking book, Mike McGovern suggests the answer lies in understanding war as a process, not a series of events, and that rather than focusing on the role of political institutions, we should be paying attention to the flawed and unpredictable people within them.
McGovern argues that only deep knowledge of a region—its history, languages, literature, and popular culture—can yield meaningful insights into political decision making. Putting this theory into action, he examines an array of issues from the micro to the macro, including land tenure disputes, youth boredom, organized crime, and the international cocoa trade. Drawn from McGovern’s academic research and experience working for a conflict resolution think tank and the political access that position gave him, Making War in Côte D’Ivoire will be the definitive work on the Ivorian conflict and an innovative example of how anthropology can address the complexities of politics.
Youngest Recruits is an unflinching examination of the complex motivations that drive Ivoirian children in and out of armed groups. Drawing on firsthand experience with child soldiers, Magali Chelpi-Den Hamer argues that the popular narrative about children’s limited agency is insufficient to explain their participation in violent conflicts. Rather she explores in detail the pre- to postwar trajectories of child and adolescent recruits in order to show that even the youngest exercise some degree of reflection and agency when enlisting into the armed forces. In addition to shedding light on an area of great cultural concern, the author invites readers to reflect on the mixed impact of humanitarian interventions that attempt to reintegrate these children into society.