Pragmatic and promiscuous: explaining the rise of competitive political militias across Africa

Raleigh, Clionadh (2016) Pragmatic and promiscuous: explaining the rise of competitive political militias across Africa. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 60 (2). pp. 283-310. ISSN 0022-0027

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Abstract

Across African states, militias have become one of the main agents of political violence, accounting for a third of all recent conflict. Militia violence is attributed to cultural reactions to disorder, failing and predatory states, and local cleavages which emerge during civil wars. However, activity largely occurs in democratizing states without civil wars. This article presents a typology of militias based on their local roles and actions and an explanation for the prevalence of “competition militias.” Changes in macro politics ushered in a new era of conflict and fragmentation among political elites; militias operate as private armies for these elites. The goal of this violence is to alter the political landscape, increase power for patrons, protect supportive communities, and hinder opponents. Incentives within African democratic institutions reward the use of force by elites. As a result, African democracies, and states transitioning into democracy, are not likely to be internally peaceful. Furthermore, the dominant type of conflict across African states shifts to accommodate the goals of violent agents within modern political contexts.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2017 16:03
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2017 16:03
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/66637
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