African Studies Wars and Warlords
by
Morten Bøås
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0189

Introduction

The debate about war in African studies has gone through a number of important changes. Until the end of the Cold War, African wars were often fueled by super-power competition. After the end of the Cold War most were either solved peacefully or simply collapsed as external support dried up. Some, however, continued, such as the Lord’s Resistance Army war, and new ones emerged. One was the intertwining of civil wars in West Africa’s Mano River Basin. Another was created by the collapse of the Mobutist state in Zaire that drew in a number of neighboring countries. Lately the Sahel is also experiencing a similar trend. During the Cold War, conflict in Africa was often referred to as “war by proxy,” in reference to external factors as important causes of conflict. After the end of the Cold War, much more emphasis has been placed on internal factors, first ethnicity and later the so-called greed and grievance debate. The approach to the warlord concept in African studies is closely tied to these debates. In general terms, a warlord is an individual who has control over an area because this person commands armed forces that are loyal to the warlord. A precise definition of this phenomenon is therefore available. The challenge, however, is that this term almost automatically brings forth powerful images of rape, loot, and plunder committed by heavily armed, thuggish-looking men. Contrary to the relatively sober academic debate about wars and warlords elsewhere in the world, the debate about warlords in Africa has tended to be extremely politicized and used to name and shame specific persons. Until the early 1990s, the warlord concept was used sparsely in African studies, but then it became more prevalent, promoted by debates about the civil wars in the Mano River Basin, where influential scholars such as Paul Collier argued that African civil wars were driven by greed and not grievances. Soon, the warlord label was attached to almost all conflicts on the continent. However, this also led to the emergence of a counterdebate that questioned the validity of greedy warlords as explanatory factors and argued for a multidimensional approach that also took into consideration social, political, and historical factors. The outcome was a much more nuanced but also diverse debate, where many of the most prominent scholars question the usefulness of the warlord concept.

General Overviews

Questions concerning war and warlords in African studies have been discussed in numerous ways. In a seminal contribution from 1998 William Reno introduced the concept of “warlord politics,” a type of politics where political authority is based on the privatization of power and the subsequent lack of any real distinction between private and the public interests as rulers of such states convert wealth into political resources to buy loyalty or the means to coerce. Christopher Clapham’s edited collection from 1998 African Guerrillas is one of the most cited general overviews that in addition to a number of detailed case studies also contains the editor’s four broad categories of African insurgencies: liberation, separatist, reform, and warlord. Building on Clapham and drawing on the debate that followed, Bøås and Dunn edited a new study in 2007, African Guerrillas: Raging against the Machine, that argued for a more grounded approach and against single-factor explanations such as greed, resources, or culture. Reno’s Warfare in Independent Africa is the most thorough review of African wars, covering the period from armed anticolonial rebellions to contemporary forms of warlord and parochial rebels. Included in this category are also important contributions to the debate about warlords and warlordism in Africa (Szeftel 1989, Duffield 1998, Reno 1998, Freeman 2015) and volumes that contain important contributions to related debates: greed and grievance (Berdal and Malone 2000, Richards 2005) and banditry (Crummey 1986).

  • Berdal, Mats, and David M. Malone, eds. Greed and Grievance: Economic Agendas in Civil Wars. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000.

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    A pillar of the greed and grievance debate, this volume explores how economic considerations often shape the calculations and behavior of parties to a conflict and creates a war economy. It generated a debate that has had a lasting impact, and almost all contributions thereafter have related to this volume, either in support of it or as a direct or indirect criticism of its approach.

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    • Bøås, Morten, and Kevin C. Dunn, eds. African Guerrillas: Raging against the Machine. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2007.

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      This volume revisits and discusses the insights provided by Clapham’s groundbreaking African Guerrillas, arguing for a more nuanced, holistic approach that is historically grounded and integrates multiple levels of analysis. The volume consists of a combination of thematic chapters and case studies of insurgencies (Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], Liberia, Senegal, Sudan, and Uganda), and it is bookended by a chapter by Christopher Clapham.

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      • Clapham, Christopher, ed. African Guerrillas. Oxford: James Currey, 1998.

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        In addition to Clapham’s introduction that defined the study of African insurgents for decades and introduced the warlord category as the fourth type of insurgency on the continent, this volume also contains historically grounded case studies of what was at the time of publication some of the most prominent insurgencies in Africa. Case studies include Stephen Ellis’s analysis of Liberia’s warlord insurgency and Ibrahim Abdullah and Patrick Muana’s “lumpen” thesis about the origins of the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone.

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        • Crummey, Donald, ed. Banditry, Rebellion and Social Protest in Africa. Oxford: James Currey, 1986.

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          A careful analysis of Eric Hobsbawm’s concept of social banditry in an African context. This volume is still a reference point for debates about banditry and criminal activity in Africa. It includes much-cited work by Terence Ranger on the meaning of banditry in Zimbabwe’s guerrilla war for independence and Crummey’s own chapter about the Ethiopian shefta as a “primitive rebel.”

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          • Duffield, Mark. “Post-Modern Conflict: Warlords, Post-Adjustment States and Private Protection.” Civil Wars 1 (1998): 65–102.

            DOI: 10.1080/13698249808402367Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            The opening article of the first issue of the journal Civil Wars is a lengthy piece by Mark Duffield who argues for the emergence of political projects in Africa (and the Global South) that no longer need to establish territorial, bureaucratic, or consent-based authority but rather rests on the authority of warlords or postadjustment rulers that have adopted warlord-type strategies to forge new and viable links to global markets.

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            • Freeman, Laura. “The African Warlord Revisited.” Small Wars & Insurgencies 26 (2015): 790–810.

              DOI: 10.1080/09592318.2015.1072318Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Revisiting Africanist debates about the term “warlord,” this work offers both a useful review of the debate since a special issue in 1989 of Review of African Political Economy established that this was a useful concept in African context and innovative ways in which the term “warlord” can be reconceptualized from below.

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              • Reno, William. Warlord Politics and African States. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998.

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                In this much-cited book Reno introduces the concept of “warlord politics,” a type of politics where political authority is based on the privatization of power and the subsequent lack of any real distinction between private and the public interests through a series of empirically grounded case studies from Liberia, Sierra Leone, the DRC, and Nigeria. The book also includes a discussion about warlords in the global system of states.

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                • Reno, William. Warfare in Independent Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511993428Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  This book is the most thorough review that exists of warfare in Africa after independence. This is a standard reference work for such studies, including studies of warlords and warlordism. The book also contains specific chapter on warlords (chapter 5) and what Reno calls “parochial rebels”—rebels who may have vague ideas about a social revolt but are unable to launch such political projects as they are stuck in environments of patronage not favorable to such autonomous political actions.

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                  • Richards, Paul, ed. No Peace, No War: An Anthropology of Contemporary Armed Conflict. Oxford: James Currey, 2005.

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                    A highly influential critique of the “new wars” literature that argues that all wars are long-term struggles organized for political ends, commonly but not always involving violence. The volume contains case studies from countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda and is particularly critical to the notion of new wars as war events that can be explained through population pressure, the clash of cultures, or transboundary political economies.

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                    • Szeftel, Morris. “Warlords and Problems of Democracy in Africa.” Review of African Political Economy 45–46 (1989): 3–11.

                      DOI: 10.1080/03056248908703821Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      This editorial in a special issue on warlords and the problems of democracy in Africa argues that in places such as Chad one finds clear parallels with the general warlord model of China and elsewhere. These characteristics include the collapse of the central state, factional strife, the increased use of force to settle disputes, and the regionalization of the political process.

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                      Reference Works

                      There is no exclusive reference work on war and warlords in African studies, but the three readers listed in this section offer insight and overviews of the various debates that have influenced this particular field of study. The most comprehensive volume for this purpose is Hentz 2014, which has a broad but inclusive perspective on the security issues that 21st-century Africa is facing. The two other collections (Cheeseman, et al. 2013 and Young 2003) are more general readers of African politics, but they also contain relevant chapters and references to debates of much value to the study of war and warlords in Africa. Of the two latter contributions Young 2003 is more specialist in nature as it is a collection of articles and chapters published elsewhere, and therefore it may be slightly less accessible to readers that are not too familiar with these literatures.

                      • Cheeseman, Nic, David Anderson, and Andrea Scheibler, eds. Routledge Handbook of African Politics. London: Routledge, 2013.

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                        Divided into thirty-two brief chapters, this volume summarizes decades of research by their respective authors on their topic of expertise. The coverage of thematic areas is very broad, but it contains highly relevant chapters on civil war, autochthony, private security, neopatrimonialism, and terrorism.

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                        • Hentz, James, ed. Routledge Handbook of African Security. London: Routledge, 2014.

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                          The most comprehensive review of current security challenges in Africa. It includes excellent coverage of causes of war, terrorism, typologies of African guerrillas, gender issues, and the role of external actors.

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                          • Young, Tom, ed. Readings in African Politics. Oxford: James Currey, 2003.

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                            This volume contains an introduction by the editor that lays out a conceptual map of African politics: from national and international development efforts to issues concerning corruption and ethnic conflict. Several of the original articles republished in this volume are contributions that have had a major influence on their respective debates such as Roger May’s “Internal Dimension of Warfare in Chad” chapter.

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                            Journals

                            The study of war and warlords in Africa is a diverse field, and there is no single journal specifically devoted to the study of this empirically or theoretically. There are, however, several area-specific journals that have carried much of this debate, and the most important of these journals are noted here, together with a few more general journals about small wars and insurgencies. In addition to the area-specific journals, there are also a number of other journals that should be consulted as they occasionally publish articles of relevance to questions concerning war and warlords in Africa. Most important for this purpose are Civil Wars and Small Wars & Insurgencies. Other journals of interest that occasionally publish articles of interest for this particular field of study and therefore should be consulted include theoretical journals such as Theory and Society; general journals about the developing world such as Third World Quarterly, European Journal of Development Research, and Development and Change; and a number of politics and international relations journals, such as International Affairs, Global Governance, Review of International Studies, International Peacekeeping, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, and Peacebuilding.

                            Banditry

                            The debates about banditry, bandits, and crime in Africa are not directly tied to the wars and warlord debate, but they clearly also connect at certain junctures. Much of this debate evolves around Donald Crummey’s work (see Crummey 1986, cited under General Overviews) and relate to Hobsbawm’s “social banditry” (Brown 1980, Cohen 1986) and works concerning cattle rustling (Fleisher 2002, Greiner 2013, Mburu 1999).

                            • Brown, D. A. Maughan. “Social Banditry: Hobsbawm’s Model and Mau.” African Studies 39 (1980): 77–97.

                              DOI: 10.1080/00020188008707551Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              A discussion of Hobsbawm’s model based on a thorough review of the various categories used in the Mau literature to debate, analyze, and find analytical categories that fit this rebellion.

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                              • Cohen, Stanley. “Bandits, Rebels or Criminals: African History and Western Criminology.” Africa 56 (1986): 468–483.

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                                A useful review article that explores how the study of a phenomenon such as bandits, rebels, or criminals may yield very different views of the same phenomenon based on what academic paradigm is applied.

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                                • Fleisher, Michael I. “War Is Good for Thieving! The Symbiosis of Crime and Warfare among the Kuria of Tanzania.” Africa 72 (2002): 131–149.

                                  DOI: 10.3366/afr.2002.72.1.131Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  The argument is that while a cattle raiding is oriented to the cash market, it owes its existence to capitalist penetration and is driven by the rising demand for cattle; it remains heavily dependent on interclan warfare. This has two main causes: animosity engendered by commercialized cattle raiding and boundary adjustments initiated by the government, either for administrative reasons or, paradoxically, in an effort to resolve existing disputes over access to pasture, grazing, and water.

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                                  • Greiner, Clemens. “Guns, Land and Votes: Cattle Rustling and the Politics of Boundary (Re)Making in Northern Kenya.” African Affairs 112 (2013): 216–237.

                                    DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adt003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Argues that the tendency to lump criminal marketing chains, highway banditry, and ordinary petty theft together under the label of cattle rustling ignores important changes within pastoral communities and how they relate to political developments in Kenya.

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                                    • Mburu, Nene. “Contemporary Banditry in the Horn of Africa: Causes, History and Political Implications.” Nordic Journal of African Studies 8 (1999): 89–107.

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                                      An analysis of banditry as symptoms of regional problems and issues, this article traces the causes history and implications of four families of brigands, the Kafagne, the Faloul, the Ngoroko, and the Shifta in the Horn of Africa.

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                                      Ethnicity

                                      Monocasual explanations of African conflict that hone in on ethnicity are currently quite rare in the literature. However, in the period after the end of the Cold War much conflict in Africa was defined as ethnic. This led to considerable debate, and the entries in this section capture parts of this debate as well as some of the most influential authors and studies (Horowitz 1985, Fukui and Markakis 1994, Lake and Rothchild 1996) in what one with hindsight may call the “ethnicity” approach to African war and conflict. More recent contributions to this debate tend to focus more on ethnic stratification as legacy of former political systems (Blanton, et al. 2001) or the volatility of power-sharing arrangements (Roessler 2016)

                                      • Blanton, Robert, T. David Mason, and Brian Athow. “Colonial Style and Post-Ethnic Conflict in Africa.” Journal of Peace Research 38 (2001): 473–491.

                                        DOI: 10.1177/0022343301038004005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Taking a structural approach, this article argues that the distinctive colonial styles of the British and French created fundamentally different systems of ethnic stratification, which left contrasting legacies for postcolonial ethnic conflict. Specifically, the indirect, decentralized rule of the British fostered an unranked system of ethnic stratification that foster competition between ethnic groups—which the authors claim can readily spiral into conflict.

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                                        • Fukui, Katsuyoshi, and John Markakis, eds. Ethnicity and Conflict in the Horn of Africa. Oxford: James Currey, 1994.

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                                          Much more nuanced in its approach to ethnicity as a cause of conflict than Horowitz 1985 as it deliberately takes an approach that is ambiguous to the connection between ethnicity and conflict. It is a standard reference volume on ethnic groups and conflict in Ethiopia, southern Sudan, the Turkana region of Kenya, and northwest Uganda.

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                                          • Horowitz, Donald L. Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

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                                            This is one of the most influential works in the ethnic conflict school. It inspired several studies on African conflicts but also caused considerable debate and controversy as opponents claimed that its analysis was biased toward ethnicity as a monocausal cause of conflict. This is not only a book about African conflict, but it includes extensive illustrations from northern Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.

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                                            • Lake, David A., and Donald Rothchild. “Containing Fear: The Origins and Management of Ethnic Conflict.” International Security 21 (1996): 41–75.

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                                              A critique of works in this period that tend to see the rise of conflict defined as ethnic in Africa (and elsewhere) as caused by the uncorking of primordial sentiments by the end of the Cold War. Instead, the authors argue that this is a consequence of collective uncertainty and fear fueled by ethnic entrepreneurs.

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                                              • Roessler, Philip. Ethnic Politics and State Power in Africa: The Logic of the Coup-Civil War Trap. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

                                                DOI: 10.1017/9781316809877Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Covering a wide range of cases from the Biafra War in Nigeria to the recent outbreak of war in South Sudan, this book offers interesting insights into the dilemma in weak states between power-sharing and fearing future coups. Theoretically sophisticated and draws on a rich empirical material.

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                                                Gender

                                                Traditionally most inquires of gender and war in Africa tended to focus on women as merely passive victims of war. This has changed over the past decade with a new generation of scholars (Baaz and Stern 2013, Coulter 2013): anthropologists and social scientists with a leaning toward ethnography started to question such approaches. Not leaving behind the suffering war causes both women and men (Utas 2005), this new body of literature represented here by Higate and Henry 2004 and Jennings 2014 has fleshed out the contradictions of a gendered agency during war and postwar situations.

                                                • Baaz, Maria Eriksson, and Maria Stern. Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War? Perceptions, Prescriptions, Problems in the Congo and Beyond. London: Zed Books, 2013.

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                                                  The most important book published about sexual violence and war. Theoretically sophisticated, conceptually rich, and innovative, this book is based on in-depth ethnographic insight of the complicated landscape of conflict in the DRC.

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                                                  • Coulter, Chris. Bush Wives and Girl Soldiers: Women’s Lives through War and Peace in Sierra Leone. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013.

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                                                    A superb study that questions stereotypes in mainstream academia as well as in policy reports. Drawing on the author’s in-depth insights into the war in Sierra Leone, this study fleshes out what happened when girls returned from the bush after the end of the war only to be viewed with skepticism and fear by their home communities and as victims only by humanitarian agencies.

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                                                    • Higate, Paul, and Marsha Henry. “Engendering (In)Security in Peace Operations.” Security Dialogue 35 (2004): 481–498.

                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0967010604049529Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      This article is one of the first and most influential inquires of male peacekeepers and their gendered relations with women and girls. The case material is drawn from the DRC and Sierra Leone.

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                                                      • Jennings, Kathleen M. “Service, Sex and Security: Gendered Peacekeeping Economies in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Security Dialogue 45 (2014): 1–18.

                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0967010614537330Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        This article explores three types of work that are characteristic of what the author coins as “peacekeeping economies”: domestic service, sex work, and private security. This is done in order to show how peacekeepers as individuals and as complexes of institutions, policies, and practice interact with and shape the societies in which they operate.

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                                                        • Utas, Mats. “Victimcy, Girlfriending, Soldiering: Tactical Agency in a Young Woman’s Social Navigation of the Liberian War Zone.” Anthropological Quarterly 78 (2005): 403–430.

                                                          DOI: 10.1353/anq.2005.0032Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          This article is a powerful argument against reductionist approaches that tend to portray women as merely passive victims of conflict. It uses the term “victimcy” to describe the agency of performing the role of a victim of war as a tactic to cope with violent and confusing circumstances.

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                                                          Greed and Grievance

                                                          The debate about greed and grievance has been one of the most important debates concerning war and warlords in Africa (see Berdal 2005, Keen 2012). In the early years of the new millennium it was the dominant debate, and it spurred a lengthy literature of support and opposition (Collier and Hoeffler 1998, Berdal 2005, Keen 2005) and clearly contributed to the popular image of African warlords and their rank-and-file as thugs devoid of any political agenda. The current debate is much more nuanced (Collier, et al. 2003), but there is no doubt that the greed and grievance debate has left a legacy that cannot be discarded in research or policy (Keen 2012).

                                                          • Berdal, Mats. “Beyond Greed and Grievance—and Not Too Soon.” Review of International Studies 31 (2005): 687–698.

                                                            DOI: 10.1017/S0260210505006698Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            An interesting review essay that summed up this debate in the early 2000s and pointed to new directions for research and policy that is still relevant today.

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                                                            • Collier, Paul, Lani Elliot, Håvard Hegre, Anke Hoeffler, Marta Reynal-Querol, and Nicholas Sambanis. Breaking the Conflict Trap: Civil War and Development Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                                              A highly influential publication from the World Bank copublished with Oxford University Press. It represents a slight shift in the debate away from Collier’s previous emphasis on the motivations of rebels to the opportunity and feasibility of rebellion.

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                                                              • Collier, Paul, and Anke Hoeffler. “On Economic Causes of Civil War.” Oxford Economic Papers 50 (1998): 563–573.

                                                                DOI: 10.1093/oep/50.4.563Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                A seminal and extremely influential article that was at the forefront of the greed and grievance debate. Based on utility theory, the article argues that rebels will conduct a civil war if the perceived benefits outweigh the costs of rebellion.

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                                                                • Keen, David. Conflict & Collusion in Sierra Leone. Oxford: James Currey, 2005.

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                                                                  A detailed account of the war in Sierra Leone that analytically examines the war economy that came into being and how different armed actors not only fought over it but also colluded to profit from it. A fine example of what can be achieved by a greed and grievance approach when it is based on a thorough understanding of the context in which the conflict takes place.

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                                                                  • Keen, David. “Greed and Grievance in Civil War.” International Affairs 88 (2012): 757–777.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2346.2012.01100.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    An interesting reading of Paul Collier (e.g., greed) and Frances Stewart (e.g., grievance) that leads toward a far-reaching critique of Collier’s work but also provides an interesting examination of the reasons for the popularity of Collier’s analysis.

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                                                                    Global Connections and Terrorism

                                                                    African wars and African warlords have global connections as is the case of wars and warlords elsewhere. Some are formal, but most are clandestine and informal/illegal. Much of this debate has focused on involvement in drug trade, arms trafficking, natural resources, and alleged connections to global terrorist networks, mainly Jihadist networks The works in this section highlight various parts of this debate, with Allen 1999 and Ellis 2009 representing Africanist scholarship on the drug trade, Strazzari 2014 arms trafficking, Taylor 2003 natural resources, and Marchal 2007 alleged connections to global terrorism.

                                                                    • Allen, Chris. “Africa & the Drug Trade.” Review of African Political Economy 79 (1999): 5–11.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/03056249908704357Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      The introduction to a special issue of ROAPE is one of the first systematic attempts to outline Africa’s role in production, sale, and consumption of illegal drugs.

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                                                                      • Ellis, Stephen. “West Africa’s International Drug Trade.” African Affairs 108 (2009): 171–196.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adp017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        In the public debate, much attention has focused on Guinea-Bissau as an illustration of a fragile state infiltrated by the international drug trade. Ellis’s argument is that West Africa has a long history of involvement in the international drug trade. This has historically been dominated by Nigerian interests, and more attention to this history could help researchers understand both the nature of the involvement itself and the long-term consequences for the state.

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                                                                        • Marchal, Roland. “Warlordism and Terrorism: How to Obscure an Already Confusing Crisis? The Case of Somalia.” International Affairs 83 (2007): 1091–1106.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2346.2007.00675.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          This article is a highly relevant critique of the popular use of concepts such as warlords and terrorism. The argument is that this has become akin to what Michel Foucault called “a regime of truth” and thus less as analytical concepts and much more as a way to define the answers to an empirical problem without much context and real analysis.

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                                                                          • Strazzari, Francesco. “Libyan Arms and Regional Instability.” International Spectator 49 (2014): 54–68.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/03932729.2014.937142Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            The distribution of weapons from post-Gaddafi Libya is a real concern for regional and international security. However, this article argues that since knowledge of actual dynamics of weapon acquisition in the region is limited and process tracing extremely difficult, analysis should not claim strict causal effects but study these dynamics on a case-by-case basis.

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                                                                            • Taylor, Ian. “Conflict in Central Africa: Clandestine Networks & Regional/Global Configurations.” Review of African Political Economy 99 (2003): 45–55.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/03056240308372Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              A highly relevant analysis of how clandestine and illegal networking creates a covert type of regionalization that connects Africa to external interests.

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                                                                              Natural Resources

                                                                              The role of natural resources in African conflicts has been an issue/area of much debate (Behrends, et al. 2011), and the “resource curse” is much referred to (Englebert and Ron 2004). Studying civil war, researchers (see Billon 2001, Nest 2011) have argued over what role resources actually plays. Another issue is the “resource scarcity” hypothesis, which is the opposite of the resource curse theory. Here this is exemplified by Percival and Homer-Dixon 1998.

                                                                              • Behrends, Andrea, Stephen P. Reyna, and Günther Schlee, eds. Crude Domination: An Anthropology of Oil. Oxford: Berghahn, 2011.

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                                                                                A stimulating ethnographic approach to the politics of oil. In addition to more conceptual chapters, it also includes interesting case studies from the Niger Delta, the Darfur-Chad border, Chad, and Congo-Brazzaville.

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                                                                                • Billon, Philippe Le. “Angola’s Political Economy of War: The Role of Oil and Diamonds, 1975–2000.” African Affairs 100 (2001): 55–80.

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                                                                                  Argues that the spatial distribution of oil and diamonds guided and financed the military strategies of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola during the civil war in Angola.

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                                                                                  • Englebert, Pierre, and James Ron. “Commodities and War: Congo-Brazzaville’s Ambivalent Resource Curse.” Comparative Politics 37 (2004): 61–81.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/4150124Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Reference to the resource curse is a much-used explanation for political conflict, violence, and war in Africa. This article tests the hypothesis that abundant natural resources stimulate war by analyzing four cases of armed conflict in Congo-Brazzaville. It finds that the resource curse theory proves valid in some respects but is underspecified in others.

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                                                                                    • Nest, Michael. Coltan. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2011.

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                                                                                      A comprehensive analysis of the role played by coltan in the conflict of DRC and how local and international actors and issues are intertwined in the conflict as well as in attempts to reshape the global value chain of coltan.

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                                                                                      • Percival, Val, and Thomas Homer-Dixon. “Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: The Case of South Africa.” Journal of Peace Research 35 (1998): 279–298.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0022343398035003002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        A much-cited article that provides a different, albeit controversial, perspective on the violence that emerged in South Africa after the end of apartheid. This is done by analyzing the link between South Africa’s environmental scarcity and violent conflict.

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                                                                                        Governance and Society

                                                                                        Wars and warlords do not exist in a social vacuum (Vinci 2007) but are part and parcel of the societies and states in which they operate (Jackson 2003, Menkhaus 2006–2007). Several contributions from African studies have pointed this out and studied these relationships in depth. Here such studies are represented by Reno 2009 on illicit markets and Themnér 2015 on remobilization of former command structures.

                                                                                        • Jackson, Paul. “Warlords as Alternative Forms of Governance.” Small War & Insurgencies 14 (2003): 131–150.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/09592310412331300716Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          An article that offers a historical overview of the warlord phenomenon, illustrated with empirical examples of Liberia and Charles Taylor. In this argument, Liberia is an example of a state where warlords thrive, whereas Charles Taylor is an archetypical example of a warlord.

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                                                                                          • Menkhaus, Ken. “Governance without Government in Somalia: Spoilers, State Building and the Politics of Coping.” International Security 31 (2006–2007): 74–106.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1162/isec.2007.31.3.74Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Somalia, Menkhaus argues, is much more than failed state-building. It represents also the rise of informal systems of adaptation, security, and governance in response to the prolonged absence of a central government. This article is empirically very rich and contains much food for thought beyond the Somali predicament.

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                                                                                            • Reno, William. “Illicit Markets, Violence, Warlords and Governance: West African Cases.” Crime, Law and Social Change 52 (2009): 313–322.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/s10611-009-9199-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              As wartime leaders use commercial activities in postconflict situations to build political support among demobilized fighters, they have also contributed to the emergence of new forms of governance outside externally imported models of reform and state-building.

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                                                                                              • Themnér, Anders. “Former Military Networks and the Micro-Politics of Violence and Statebuilding in Liberia.” Journal of Comparative Politics 47 (2015): 334–353.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.5129/001041515814709284Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                The main question of this article is why some demobilized command structures are remobilized during times of armed conflict while others are not. Through a comparison of two different ex-midlevel commanders and the networks of ex-combatants that they control, the argument is that some ex-midlevel commanders function as gatekeepers, providing access to ex-combatant communities, and without their services elites have fewer possibilities to remobilize ex-fighters for war and political conflict.

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                                                                                                • Vinci, Anthony. “ʻLike Worms in the Entrails of a Natural Manʼ: A Conceptual Analysis of Warlords.” Review of African Political Economy 112 (2007): 313–331.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/03056240701449711Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  A critique of one-sided greed or grievance approaches to the study of warlords that argues for a more detailed and holistic conceptual approach that integrates political, economic, military, and social aspects of warlord organizations.

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                                                                                                  Identity and Autochthony

                                                                                                  Issues concerning identity, war, and warlordism are discussed in Bøås and Dunn 2013. An important concern is the question of how identity is used by various types of political “Big Men” to mobilize support for violent action (Jackson 2006, Dunn 2009). Much of this debate draws on Geschire 2009, a pioneering work on authochthony, and empirically the relationship between land and belonging is an important theme for many works in this literature (see Kuba and Lentz 2006).

                                                                                                  • Bøås, Morten, and Kevin C. Dunn. Politics of Origin in Africa: Autochthony, Citizenship and Conflict. London: Zed Books, 2013.

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                                                                                                    Through detailed case studies of the conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire, the DRC, Liberia, and Kenya, this book systematically reviews how the politics of place, belonging, and subsequent contested citizenship are an important part of the background for violent conflict in Africa and how such sentiments can be used to mobilize people to violence.

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                                                                                                    • Dunn, Kevin C. “‘Sons of the Soil’ and Contemporary State Making: Autochthony, Uncertainty and Political Violence in Africa.” Third World Quarterly 30 (2009): 113–127.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/01436590802622417Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Argues that while autochthony discourses can resonate deeply with populations longing for a sense of primal security, this security is inevitably fleeting due to the instability and plasticity of autochthony claims. The article examines why such discourses often lead to violence and argues that autochthony claims are linked to the desire for order inherent in contemporary state-making that relies on manifestations of violence in certain African states.

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                                                                                                      • Geschire, Peter. The Perils of Belonging: Autochthony, Citizenship and Exclusion in Africa & Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226289663.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Not a study of conflict per se, but Geschire’s study of contested belonging is of huge importance to the study of war and warlordism in Africa as a number of other contributions have shown how identity politics as autochthony not only can lead to violence in Africa but also constitutes a powerful source for violent political mobilization.

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                                                                                                        • Jackson, Stephen. “Sons of Which Soil? The Language and Politics of Autochthony in Eastern DR Congo.” African Studies Review 49 (2006): 95–123.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/arw.2006.0107Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          An analysis of how the wars in the DRC has led to an upsurge in both elite and popular discourses and violence around belonging and exclusion, expressed through the language of autochthony. This is a language that the author describes as dangerously flexible, nervous, and paranoid. In the DRC, this is expressed through rumors, political tracts, and speeches, and it draws energy from imprecise overlaps with other powerful, preexisting polarized identities.

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                                                                                                          • Kuba, Richard, and Carola Lentz, eds. Land and the Politics of Belonging in West Africa. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.

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                                                                                                            A fine collection of essays that shows how the ideational and emotional importance of land can be turned into political power and possibly political violence. The general arguments made have importance beyond West Africa.

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                                                                                                            Religion

                                                                                                            Religion is a background factor and a source of popular mobilization. The books and articles listed here offer both illustrations about how the relationship between religion and war can be studied in an African context (see Behrend 1999, Ellis 1999, and Kastfelt 2005) as well as an introduction to the debate that Ellis created with the publication of Masks of Anarchy about the religious dimensions of the Liberian civil war (see Mkandawire 2003, Richards 2001).

                                                                                                            • Behrend, Heike. Alice Lakwena & the Holy Spirits: War in Northern Uganda, 1986–97. Oxford: James Currey, 1999.

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                                                                                                              Based on interviews with members of the Holy Spirit Mobile Forces and their own writings, this book gives not only an internal view of the movement and its spiritual beliefs but is also an excellent example of how the relationship between war, warlords, and religion should be studied.

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                                                                                                              • Ellis, Stephen. The Mask of Anarchy: The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimension of an African Civil War. London: Hurst, 1999.

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                                                                                                                This book is not only one of the foundations for the study of the Liberian civil war but also an important, albeit controversial, attempt to explain the violence of the war based on the religious repertories that Ellis claims formed the foundation for Liberian rural life—religious practices that were deformed and abused by the country’s Americo-Liberian rulers, it is claimed. The book resulted in a heated exchange between Stephen Ellis and Thandika Mkandawire, where the latter accused Ellis of “essentializing” Liberia and Africa.

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                                                                                                                • Kastfelt, Niels, ed. Religion and African Civil Wars. London: Hurst, 2005.

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                                                                                                                  This collection is a sober attempt to systematically rethink the religious dimensions that can be observed in a number of conflicts in Africa and how religious beliefs and practices may change due to the extreme social situation of war.

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                                                                                                                  • Mkandawire, Thandika. “Rejoinder to Ellis.” Journal of Modern African Studies 41 (2003): 477–483.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0022278X03004336Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    This is a lengthy reply to Stephen Ellis that discuss a number of issues of relevance to the debate about war and warlords in Africa, and it also includes Mkandawire’s critique of what he finds to be essentializing elements in Ellis’s argument.

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                                                                                                                    • Richards, Paul. “ʻWitchesʼ, ʻCannibalsʼ and War in Liberia.” The Journal of African History 42 (2001): 167–169.

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                                                                                                                      A review of Ellis’s Mask of Anarchy that would be very useful to those interested in the debate about war and religion in Africa.

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                                                                                                                      Violence

                                                                                                                      Wars and warlords cause violence, but how can we explain the violence that has been unleashed in African conflicts? Is it “wanton and senseless,” a consequence of external intervention as, for example, Cold War logics (Anderson and Rolandsen 2014) or mainly a consequence of political, social, and economic decisions made internally in Africa (Mkandawire 2002, Straus 2012)? Concerning the latter, of particularly interest and impact is Kalyvas 1999 and the debate it created (see Mundy 2013).

                                                                                                                      • Anderson, David M., and Øystein H. Rolandsen. “Violence as Politics in Eastern Africa, 1940–1990: Legacy, Agency, Contingency.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 8 (2014): 539–557.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/17531055.2014.949402Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Focusing on the turbulent decades between 1940 and 1990 in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Tanzania, this article asks pertinent questions concerning the widespread use of political violence. Among other issues it points toward the interlinkages between Cold War logics and an internal African agency.

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                                                                                                                        • Kalyvas, Stathis N. “Wanton and Senseless? The Logic of Massacres in Algeria.” Rationality and Society 11 (1999): 243–286.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/104346399011003001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          An award-winning article that constructs and empirically defends a thesis that attempts to explain the strategic rationale leading Islamist rebels to conduct massacres of hundreds of civilians. This article has been extremely influential and is often cited as the foundational study in the research on the micro-dynamics of violent conflict.

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                                                                                                                          • Mkandawire, Thandika. “The Terrible Toll of Post-Colonial ʻRebel Movementsʼ in Africa: Towards an Explanation of the Violence against the Peasantry.” Journal of Modern African Studies 40 (2002): 181–215.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/S0022278X02003889Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            A much-cited article that rejects both “cultural” and “rational-choice” explanations of the often brutal forms of violence by African rebel movements against the peasantry. Mkandawire’s argument is that African insurgencies have an urban bias but are forced to fight as “roving” movements in the countryside among a peasantry that have little if any interest or sympathy for them. Thus, unable to integrate among the local population, they have come to prey upon them instead. This is an argument that has sparked considerable debate.

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                                                                                                                            • Mundy, Jacob. “Wanton and Senseless Revisited: The Study of Warfare in Civil Conflicts and the Historiography of the Algerian Massacres.” African Studies Review 56 (2013): 25–55.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/asr.2013.78Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              One of the most thorough and thought-provoking critiques of Kalyvas 1999, Mundy not only argues that Kalyvas fails to examine the most conspicuous and famous Algerian massacres but also that his theoretical approach limits the inquiry a priori.

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                                                                                                                              • Straus, Scott. “War do End! Changing Patterns of Political Violence in Africa.” African Affairs 111 (2012): 179–201.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/afraf/ads015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                This article shows that Africa in the late 2000s were less conflict-prone than in the mid-1990s. Contemporary African wars are small in scale and fought in peripheral areas, and whereas mass killings are declining, new forms of violence are increasing, such as electoral violence and violent struggle over land and water.

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                                                                                                                                Youth

                                                                                                                                The debate about youth and conflict in Africa is large and spans several disciplines and approaches. However, the most influential texts have their origins in detailed ethnographic studies from West Africa as the most influential scholars have conducted most of their fieldwork on the wars in the Mano River Basin. Addressed are issues such as youth agency (Utas 2003, Vigh 2006), rural crisis (Peters 2011), a crisis of modernity (Richards 1996), and violent labor (Hoffman 2011).

                                                                                                                                • Hoffman, Danny. The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1215/9780822394488Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Theoretically innovative, extremely well written, and based on extensive fieldwork, Hoffman’s book considers how young men are utilized for war and in unregulated labor in the diamond fields and related industries in West Africa.

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                                                                                                                                  • Peters, Krijn. War and the Crisis of Youth in Sierra Leone. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511976896Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Through a focus on the often underaged cadres of the Revolutionary United Front, this book challenges the mainstream view of the Sierra Leone conflict as a war motivated by greed. Rather, it directs our attention to a rural crisis that was triggered by the collapse of the neopatrimonial state of Sierra Leone.

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                                                                                                                                    • Richards, Paul. Fighting for the Rain Forest: War, Youth & Resources in Sierra Leone. Oxford: James Currey, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                      One of the most influential books on African wars and youth. This is not only a standard reference work for the background and early years of the Sierra Leone war but also a book that inspired a new generation of anthropologist to start researching war and conflict. Its arguments about African civil wars as a crisis of modernity and violence as performance are still both highly influential and continue to cause controversy.

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                                                                                                                                      • Utas, Mats. Sweet Battlefield: Youth and the Liberian Civil war. Uppsala: Dissertation in Cultural Anthropology, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                        An ethnography of the lives of Liberian youth that focuses on the experiences, motivations, and reflections of young combatants who fought for a number of insurgencies in the Liberian civil war. Well written and researched, this is also evidence of how important one single dissertation can be for the scholarly debate—in this case, the debate about youth and conflict in Africa.

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                                                                                                                                        • Vigh, Henrik. Navigating Terrains of War: Youth and Soldiering in Guinea-Bissau. Oxford: Berghahn, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                          A highly influential and theoretically ambitious book that through the concept of social navigation provides insight into youth agency—an agency that often is forced into tactical and even fatalistic ways in a world of conflict and scarce resources.

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                                                                                                                                          Africa

                                                                                                                                          In addition to the general literature presented already, there are also several works that discuss issues concerning wars and warlords from a number of different disciplines. Some of these refer explicitly to the warlord concept (Hills 1997, Rich 1999); others take a borderland perspective (Bøås 2015), are concerned with the role of the state (Bayart, et al. 1999), address a specific war of huge consequences (Prunier 2009), or have a postcolonial perspective regarding state and society (Mbembe 2001).

                                                                                                                                          • Bayart, Jean-Francois, Stephen Ellis, and Beatrice Hibou. The Criminalization of the State in Africa. Oxford: James Currey, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                            A seminal contribution that, following Braudel’s longue dureé perspective and Charles Tilly’s coercion, capital, and states’ argument, explores how in Africa the interaction between power, war, capital accumulation, and various illicit activities constitutes a specific political trajectory that must be viewed in a long-term perspective.

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                                                                                                                                            • Bøås, Morten. The Politics of Conflict Economies: Miners, Merchants and Warriors in the African Borderland. London: Routledge, 2015.

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                                                                                                                                              An exploration of the conflict economies of eastern Congo, Sierra Leone, northern Mali, and northern Uganda that not only focuses on strategies applied and coping mechanisms utilized but also the contradictions of agency and the ambiguity of power in economies such as these.

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                                                                                                                                              • Hills, Alice. “Warlords, Militia and Conflict in Contemporary Africa: A Re-Examination of Terms.” Small Wars & Insurgencies 8 (1997): 35–51.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/09592319708423161Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                An analysis of the concepts of warlord and militias based on the fragmented states in Africa as a precondition for their existence.

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                                                                                                                                                • Mbembe, Achille. On the Postcolony. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                  A groundbreaking contribution to postcolonial studies as well as African studies. This is not explicitly a study of war and warlords, but the insights it offers on the constitution of power in postcolonial Africa is of huge relevance to all students of conflict in Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Prunier, Gerard. From Genocide to Continental War: The “Congolese” Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa. London: Hurst, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                    The most comprehensive work that exists on the war in DRC and the involvement of neighboring countries. Detailed but also analytically very rich.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Rich, Paul B. “Warlords, State Fragmentation and the Dilemma of Humanitarian Intervention.” Small Wars & Insurgencies 10 (1999): 78–96.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/09592319908423230Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Examines the conditions that lend themselves to the emergence of warlords in different cases—Somalia, Liberia, and Mozambique—and discusses the relationship between international peacekeeping and warlords.

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                                                                                                                                                      East Africa

                                                                                                                                                      Reflecting the diverse pattern of violent conflict that exists in East Africa, it is difficult to identify an eastern African debate on war and warlords. Due to the extreme durability of war in Sudan and the length of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebellion in northern Uganda, approaches to these conflicts has been prevalent among scholars concerned with war and warlords in East Africa (Flint and De Waal 2005, Doom and Vlassenroot 1999). Other important dimensions of the East Africa debate include the role of pastoralist conflict (Mkutu 2008), the insurgents in South Sudan (Rolandsen 2005), and more recently the possibility of al-Shabaab assuming a more regional strategy (Anderson and McKnight 2015).

                                                                                                                                                      • Anderson, David M., and Jacob McKnight. “Understanding al-Shabaab: Clan, Islam and Insurgency in Kenya.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 9 (2015): 536–557.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/17531055.2015.1082254Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        This article shows how al-Shabaab’s pragmatic orientation to clan relations and Islam allows it to exploit perceptions of social and economic marginalization among Kenya’s Muslim communities.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Doom, Ruddy, and Koen Vlassenroot. “Kony’s Message: A New Koine? The Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda.” African Affairs 98 (1999): 5–36.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a008002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Offers a well-argued and thorough analysis of the first years of the Lord’s Resistance Army. This article should therefore still be consulted by anyone trying to understand this insurgency.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Flint, Julie, and Alex De Waal. Darfur: A Short History of a Long War. London: Zed Books, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                            An excellent introduction to a long and complicated conflict that brings nuance to the debate.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Mkutu, Kennedy Agade. Guns & Governance in the Rift Valley: Pastoralist Conflict & Small Arms. Oxford: James Currey, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                              Highly relevant study of how the massive circulation of small arms have altered power relations within and among pastoralist communities in Kenya and Uganda and how this has escalated banditry and cattle rustling both internally and across international borders.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Rolandsen, Øystein. Guerrilla Government: Political Schanges in the Southern Sudan during the 1990s. Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                Still highly relevant as this book provides details and understanding of the internal affairs of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army. This book not only tells a fascinating story full of insights but also helps us understand the situation in independent South Sudan.

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                                                                                                                                                                Great Lakes Region

                                                                                                                                                                The Rwandan genocide (Prunier 1995) and the wars in the DRC has dominated the Great Lakes region literature on wars and warlords (Baregu 2002, Turner 2007). The region-specific debates points out that no single explanatory factor can explain war and warlords in DRC (see Chrétien and Banégas 2008). Rather, the DRC wars are like an onion of circumstances that causes a perpetuated crisis (Stearns 2011). However, most scholars agree that the state is to a varying the degree at the heart of the matter (see Lemarchand 2009). Congolese militias and their leaders do not fight to break out of the state but to break into it and the spoils that it still creates (Baaz and Verweijen 2013).

                                                                                                                                                                • Baaz, Maria Eriksson, and Judith Verweijen. “The Volatility of a Half-Cooked Bouillabaisse: Rebel-Military Integration and Conflict Dynamics in the Eastern DRC.” African Affairs 112 (2013): 563–582.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adt044Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  An illuminating article on how military integration has fueled desertions and insurgency violence, showcasing how the agency of political-military entrepreneurs in the DRC is shaped by high-level politicians.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Baregu, Mwesiga. “The Clones of ʻMr. Kurtzʼ: Violence, War and Plunder in the DRC.” African Journal of Political Science 7 (2002): 11–38.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.4314/ajps.v7i2.27329Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Offers an interesting conceptual typology of the identities, interests, and definitions of actors involved in the DRC war economy.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Chrétien, Jean Pierre, and Richard Banégas, eds. The Recurring Great Lakes Crisis: Identity, Violence and Power. London: Hurst, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                      A useful commentary on the themes and conceptual terms, for example, “ethnicity,” “state failure,” and “war economies,” that has been suggested as explanations for the Great Lakes region crisis.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Lemarchand, Rene. The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Written by one of the most experienced scholars of central Africa, this book provides a most useful exploration of the background for the crises that continues to haunt Burundi, DRC, and Rwanda.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Prunier, Gérard. The Rwanda Crisis 1959–1994: History of a Genocide. London: Hurst, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Written immediately after the genocide, this is still one of the most thorough accounts of the causes behind the genocide and the events that unfolded. In what has become a relatively large literature on the Rwandan genocide, this book still stands out as a major work to be consulted.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Stearns, Jason K. Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa. New York: Public Affairs, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Personal and compelling but also innovative analytically, Stearns offers an insightful analysis of how DRC collapsed into conflict and the key actors involved in this matter.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Turner, Thomas. The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth & Reality. London: Zed Books, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                              A concise analysis of the two Congo Wars, from 1996 to 2002, that is situated within the context of the legacy of colonialism and the subsequent Mobutist state.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Horn of Africa

                                                                                                                                                                              Given the Somali predicament, debates about warlords and pirates are prevalent (see Adam 1992, Bahadur 2011). The role of the clan system in Somalia has caused intense debate (see Lewis 1994, Kapteijns 2013). The al-Shabaab insurgency has also created an interesting literature (see Hansen 2013) Turning to the north of the Horn, in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the picture is different. The civil wars in Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as the later war between these two countries, constitutes a narrative of quite coherent insurgencies with clear chains of command and control and well-crafted political agendas (Keller 1988), whereas the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea was very much a case of conventional warfare between two state armies (Negash and Tronvoll 2000).

                                                                                                                                                                              • Adam, Hussein M. “Somalia: Militarism, Warlordism or Democracy?” Review of African Political Economy 54 (1992): 11–26.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/03056249208703950Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                An analysis of how Siyaad Barre policies disrupted the balance of clan interests in Somalia and divided the country and as a consequence gave rise to regional and clan warlords.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Bahadur, Jay. The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World. New York: Pantheon, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Not an academic book but written by a young journalist who stayed for a considerable amount of time in Puntland, Somalia. This is one of very few books that details the life of Somali pirates and not only the attacks but their daily life.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hansen, Stig Jarle. Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group 2005–2012. London: Hurst, 2013.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199327874.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    Based on extensive field research in Somalia, including interviews with al-Shabaab operatives themselves, this is the only book that explores the full history of this insurgency and the key actors within it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kapteijns, Lidwien. Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      A thought-provoking study of the 1991 violence in and around the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Kapteijns are able to show how the manipulation of clan sentiments can turn civilians against their neighbors and friends, while simultaneously arguing that it is not clans that kill but people who kill in the name of clans. Read together with Lewis 1994, this book will facilitate a better understanding of the issue of clans and kinship in the violent conflict in Somalia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Keller, Edmond J. Revolutionary Ethiopia: From Empire to People’s Republic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        A fine study of the Ethiopia revolution and the main actors involved, including analyses of the role of the Emperor and the Dergue. This book therefore offers an understanding of the context that led up to the creation of the insurgencies that brought down the Dergue and Meles and his organization to power in Ethiopia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lewis, Ioan M. Blood and Bone: The Call of Kinship in Somali Society. Lawrenceville, NY: Red Sea, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Lewis is the founding father of Somali studies, and it is not possible to come to grips with the issue and debate about clans and kinship in Somalia and how it affects the civil war and the emergence of warlords without having read the work of Lewis. Directly or indirectly, everyone who writes about the Somali predicament relates to Lewis’s work, and this book is a good place to start exploring this authorship.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Negash, Tekeste, and Kjetil Tronvoll. Brothers at War: Making Sense of the Eritrean-Ethiopia War. Oxford: James Currey, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Published already in 2000, just two years after the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea began, this is still the primary reader on this war as it lays out the larger context that led former allies to wage a destructive wear against each other.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Sahel

                                                                                                                                                                                            The Sahel literature on wars and warlords has also gone through a shift from a focus on pastoralist conflicts and Turareg rebellions to the issues concerning transnational crime and (global) Jihad. Analyzing the establishment of order in an area where state power is weak, Raleigh and Dowd 2013, Hüsken and Klute 2015, and Guichaoua 2011 offer insights and relevant critiques of dominant policy perspectives as the Sahel as an “ungoverned space.” Lecocq 2010 offers a rich historical background to current events. Debos 2013 is excellent on Chad and the production of violence in the Sahel, while Scheele 2012 is a main reference point for the mobility of people and commodities in the Sahel.

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Debos, Marielle. Le Métier des Armes au Tchad: Le Gouvernement de l’entre-guerres. Paris: Karthala, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              A fascinating book about a country caught in between the frontiers of war and peace, where peace rarely prevails for very long but where iterated civil war does not necessarily lead to any decisive outcome either. This book offers an apt illustration and introduction to the production of violence in Chad and the Sahel.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Guichaoua, Yvan. “Circumstantial Alliances and Loose Loyalties in Rebellion Making: The Case of Tuareg Insurgency in Northern Niger (2007–2009).” In Understanding Collective Political Violence. Edited by Yvan Guichaoua, 246–266. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                An interesting case study of the Tuareg insurgency Nigerien Movement for Justice that also shows how different an ethnically based insurgency can be from one country to another. The situation in Niger with regard to the Tuareg and Tuareg insurgencies in particular is very different as it is played out in different political, economic, and social contexts, even if the issue of minority representation in the postcolonial state is the same.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hüsken, Thomas, and Georg Klute. “Political Orders in the Making: Emerging Forms of Political Organizations from Libya to Northern Mali.” African Security 8 (2015): 320–337.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/19392206.2015.1100502Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Argues that current developments in Libya and (northern) Mali represents a reconfiguration of the postcolonial political order. The fragmentation of Libya and the continuing rebellion in northern Mali-Tuareg, but also increasingly Salafist, leads to a fragmentation of state structures and increased room for maneuverability of nonstate armed groups.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Lecocq, Baz. Disputed Desert: Decolonization, Competing Nationalisms and Tuareg Rebellion in Northern Mali. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004139831.i-433Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Through a rich and empirically detailed history the tensions and cleavages that still haunt the Sahel are brought to the fore. This book should be a standard reference point for anyone trying to make sense of current conflict lines and the actors involved in Mali and the Sahel.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Raleigh, Clionadh, and Caitriona Dowd. “Governance and Conflict in the Sahel’s Ungoverned Space.” Stability 2 (2013): 1–17.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      A useful overview of conflict and governance challenges in the Sahel as well as a precise and much to-the-point critique of terms such as “failed” and “ungoverned” that are used to explain the security predicament of the Sahel in much of the policy literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Scheele, Judith. Smugglers and Saints of the Sahara: Regional Connectivity in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139135412Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A great book that takes the reader into the al-Khalil, a transborder hub on the Algerian-Malian border with its trading families and smugglers. Uncovering a lot of ground in an area that hardly has been researched, this book should be a main reference point for all who want to understand the mobility and movements across the Sahel.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Southern Africa

                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the case of southern Africa, it is difficult to point to specific approaches and positions taken. It varies with what authors have attempted to explain, be it violence in geographically specific locations, as for example Matabeleland (Alexander, et al. 2000), the ramifications of South Africa’s apartheid regime (Ellis 1998, Mathis 2013), or the civil war in Angola (Malaquias 2007) and Mozambique (Darch 1989). The works presented illustrate these diverse literatures, but with the exception of Alexander, et al. 2000 they have had less impact on the general debate than the debates emerging out of studies in the Great Lakes region and West Africa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Alexander, Jocelyn, JoAnn McGregor, and Terrence Ranger. Violence & Memory: One Hundred Years in the “Dark Forests” of Matabeleland. Oxford: James Currey, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          A history of violence in Matabeleland that should be a standard reference point for attempts to understand the current violence of Zimbabwe.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Darch, Colin. “Are There Warlords in Provincial Mozambique? Questions of the Social Base of MNR Banditry.” Review of African Political Economy 45/46 (1989): 34–49.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/03056248908703824Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Argues that even if Renamo was not a case of classical warlordism, it still has achieved a certain local dynamic, which means that the warlord concept has some limited usefulness also in the case of Mozambique.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ellis, Stephen. “The Historical Significance of South Africa’s Third Force.” Journal of Southern African Studies 24 (1998): 261–299.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/03057079808708577Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Analyzes the degree to which the Third Force was integrated into the policy of the National Party for a considerable time and the significant influence this had on politics and society in South Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Malaquias, Assis. Rebels and Robbers: Violence in Post-Colonial Angola. Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Analyzes the political economy of violence in postcolonial Angola, with a particular focus on the capture of state resources for personal enrichment.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Mathis, Sarah M. “From Warlords to Freedom Fighters: Political Violence and State Formation in Umbumbulu, South Africa.” African Affairs 112 (2013): 421–439.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adt041Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An ethnographic study of the rural area of Umbumbulu, Durban, where most the violence from the mid-1980s and into the post-apartheid period had less to do with rivalry between political parties and more to do with local warlords that mobilized young men for violent action through kinship and patronage networks.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  West Africa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The civil wars of West Africa has spurred a huge debate about the causes of conflict. Most influential also for wider debates are the studies that emerged out of research in the Mano River Basin. These wars have been cited as archetypical examples of the greed thesis but also led to studies highly critical of these approaches (see McGovern 2011, Richards 2005, Utas and Jörgel 2008). The wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone contributed to a rich debate, ranging from background studies of the Liberian civil war (Huband 1998) to studies of Charles Taylor’s attempt to transform from warlord to elected president (Harris 1999). Gberie 2005 is a detailed account of the insurgency in Sierra Leone, and Abdullah 1998 proposes an influential “lumpen” thesis, while the new role of traditional societies is the focus of Hellweg 2011, an account of the Benkadi during the Ivorian crisis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Abdullah, Ibrahim. “Bush Path to Destruction: The Origins and Character of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF/SL).” Journal of Modern African Studies 36 (1998): 203–235.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0022278X98002766Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This article not only had a high impact on interpretations of the Sierra Leone war and the at-that-time embryonic debate about youth and conflict but is also an interesting inquiry into how political cultures frames war and the behavior of those who fight it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Gberie, Lansana. A Dirty War in West Africa: the RUF and the Destruction of Sierra Leone. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A detailed and well-written account of the war in Sierra Leone that pays particular attention to the insurgency, the Revolutionary United Front and its leader the late Foday Sankoh.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Harris, David. “From Warlord to Democratic President: How Charles Taylor Won the 1997 Liberian Elections.” Journal of Modern African Studies 37 (1999): 431–455.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S0022278X99003109Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This article addresses the puzzle of how a character like Charles Taylor, whom the international community saw as a brutal warlord, could win the 1997 Liberian elections—elections that were quite free and fair. The argument is that the “main” warlord won due to calculations made in the electorate concerning peace as well as livelihood considerations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hellweg, Joseph. Hunting the Ethical State: The Benkadi Movement of Côte d’Ivoire. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226326559.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The most comprehensive book about the role of the Benkadi—hunters skilled in ritual sacrifice—in the turbulent period in Côte d’Ivoire that led up to the 2002–2007 rebellion and the subsequent election of Laurent Gbagbo.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Huband, Mark. The Liberian Civil War. London: Frank Cass, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The work of a reporter based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, when the Liberian civil war started. This is a highly readable book that offers important insights into the background and early years of the Liberian civil war.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • McGovern, Mike. Making War in Côte d’Ivoire. London: Hurst, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226026855.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not only a detailed account of the conflict and the various causes, interests, and motivations behind it but also a rich theoretical and conceptual discussion that has had significant influence on the general debate about African wars.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Richards, Paul. “To Fight or to Farm? Agrarian Dimensions of the Mano River Conflict (Liberia and Sierra Leone).” African Affairs 104 (2005): 571–590.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adi068Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As an alternative to explanations that hone in on the condition of urban youth, in this article Paul Richards suggests a model of war as agrarian revolt. This is based on his argument that the war was fought mainly in rural areas by rural youth who adapted the war to their concerns.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Utas, Mats, and Magnus Jörgel. “The West Side Boys: Military Navigation in the Sierra Leone Civil War.” Journal of Modern African Studies 46 (2008): 487–511.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0022278X08003388Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Through a detailed case study, based on interviews with members and junior officers of a movement generally seen as a rag-tag group of bandits, the authors present an interesting analysis of war as a tactical instrument within a larger set of military and political strategies. This is one of the few works that seriously inquires about the practice and discourse of one of the smaller insurgencies involved in the wars in the Mano River Basin.

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