The Politics of Conflict Economies
Miners, merchants and warriors in the African borderland
By Morten Bøås
Routledge – 2015 – 162 pages
Routledge – 2015 – 162 pages
Conflict economies cannot be approached in isolation but must instead be contextualised socially and historically. These economies did not emerge in vacuum, but are part and parcel of the history of people and place.
This book explores the informal and illicit extraction and trade of minerals and other types of natural resources that takes place in the 'borderlands' during periods of conflict. This type of extraction and marketing, often referred to as ‘conflict trade’ depends on a weak state, and works alongside the structures of the state and its officials. The book emphasises that conflicts do not start as competition over natural resources and in turn suggests that the integration of the extraction and marketing of natural resources only starts once fighting is well under way. Boas argues that although economic agendas are an integral part of African conflicts, the desire to accumulate is not the only motivation. Thus, in order to present a more comprehensive analysis of conflict we need to take into account political, cultural, and historical factors, in addition to the economic dimensions of conflict.
This book will be of very strong interest to students and scholars of political economy, conflict studies, international relations and development.
‘With a constant eye for the lives of the people who inhabit the borderlands, Morten Bøås brings to the reader the outcome of his longstanding experience of social practices that are constitutive of state- society interactions in conflict economies.’
Professor Daniel Bach, Emile Durkheim Centre, Sciences Po, Paris France.
‘In The Politics of Conflict Economies, Morten Bøås provides an insightful and provocative examination of the tumultuous emergence of conflict economies in African borderlands. Rejecting over-simplified economic arguments that recent conflicts have been caused by natural resource competition, Bøås shows the importance of social, historic, and political factors across numerous cases. Drawing upon a rich and diverse array of cases -- from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda – Bøås expertly combines a theoretical sophistication and attention to the humanity of individual actors unmatched by most other scholars. The Politics of Conflict Economies is both an essential interrogation of modern African conflicts and an exemplar of ethnographic political economy.’
Professor Kevin Dunn, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, USA.
‘This is a superb book and I will be urging colleagues and students to read it. It is intelligent, lucid and connects with pertinent questions on peace, conflict, displacement and the economic complexities that underpin and prolong wars in Africa and beyond. But most of all, this book is humane. It is people-centric in a way that so many academic books are not.’
Professor Roger Mac Ginty, University of Manchester, UK.
‘In this enlightening intellectual journey to the African borderlands, Bøås skillfully combines personal encounters with nuanced analysis, deep structural histories with stories of human agency and dreams of social mobility, and convincingly deconstructs the false western imaginaries of African wars, states and politics – a must-read for academics and practitioners alike.’
Dr Berit Bliesemann de Guevara, Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, UK.
Acknowledgements Prologue: Nakivale 1:05 AM 1. Introduction: life in the borderland 2. Eastern Congo: mines, ‘moles’ and the users of force 3. The great escape? Diamond-mining in the borderland of Sierra Leone 4. Liberia: land, belonging and identity in a border area 5. Northern Mali: criminality, coping, and resistance along an elusive frontier 6. Northern Uganda: displacement and fear in the borderland 7. Navigating Nakivale: the refugee camp as borderland 8. Conclusion: touching from the distance References List of acronyms
Morten Bøås is Research Professor at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).