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African Affairs Advance Access





Published: Wed, 14 Feb 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2018 08:52:16 GMT

 



The study of violence and social unrest in Africa: A comparative analysis of three conflict event datasets

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Abstract
African conflicts are highly represented in cross-national conflict event datasets, and their causes are increasingly investigated in quantitative analyses. Many of these datasets make use of international media reports to compile information on different forms of conflict events, ranging from violent armed conflict to forms of social unrest such as protests and riots. African studies scholars more commonly rely on local news sources to study these phenomena. In this research note, we investigate the effect of using different types of news sources to analyze conflict patterns in Africa by comparing the coverage of conflict events in Nigeria by three datasets: The Social Conflict in Africa Database (SCAD), the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset (ACLED) and a dataset developed by the authors, based on Nigerian sources and focusing on the period April 2014–March 2015. We investigate the overlap between the datasets and whether this is affected by event characteristics, including violent and non-violent events. The comparison shows empirically the important differences that can exist, in terms of both the absolute number and the sub-national distribution of reported conflict events. Such variations between datasets in terms of event, but also time and geographical coverage require careful reflection by users.



Afropolitanism, celebrity politics, and iconic imaginations of north–south relations

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Abstract
‘Afropolitanism’ has become a disputed term referring to diverse engagements by Africans who are typically members of the cultural elite and participate in diaspora politics, online activism, fashion and literature debates. Simultaneously, in discussions of development aid, celebrity has become a way of mediating between proximity and distance in imagining relationships between South and North. Afropolitanism can be usefully considered as an Africa-specific, post-colonial form of cosmopolitanism that spans discourses of elite pan-African culture to theories of elite global aid culture. We argue that there are essential connections between the rise of Afropolitanism and the celebritization of North–South relations. In this realm, ‘Afropolitanism’ is an idea combining cosmopolitanism’s notions of kindness to strangers in a world where the ‘kindness’ is aid and the ‘strangers’ are Africans. We analyse two archetypical Afropolitan performances by Danish aid celebrities to argue that their representations of Africa’s external relations are theoretically more interesting, and politically more dangerous, than is currently understood. In doing so, we expand the debates around Afropolitanism and celebritization from the realm of cultural politics to one of International Relations.



Explaining African participation in international courts

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Abstract
Africa has more international courts than any other continent, yet International Relations scholarship has failed to explain this move to law on the African continent. This article provides such an explanation using Jean-François Bayart’s concept of extraversion. It shows how the creation of international courts in the 1990s and early 2000s was the result of extraverted strategies for attracting international resources and pre-empting donor pressures for political and legal reforms. By adopting these strategies, African states failed to behave in the ‘strategic’ manner anticipated by both constructivist and liberal institutionalist International Relations theories. International court creation did not reflect the pursuit of national interests or a response to normative NGO pressures. Making this argument, the article analyses the design and ratification of two new international courts: the SADC Tribunal and International Criminal Court. Using the case studies of Zimbabwe and Kenya, it shows how global scripts were repeated by even those states which have, in recent years, most vocally asserted their national interests against these courts.



Transforming land governance and strengthening the state in south Sudan

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Abstract
This article analyzes how transformations of land governance in the new Republic of South Sudan play into processes of everyday state formation. National land tenure reforms and decentralization policies have increased polarization between local public authorities in and around Yei Town, who vie for legitimacy amongst returning refugees, internally displaced people and migrants arriving in the wake of the civil war. Ambiguously worded national policies and shifts in the composition of the population provide a structure of opportunity that works largely to the advantage of chiefs and at the expense of other, more localized customary authorities. Our analysis shows how chiefly and state power are mutually reinforcing. Evolving notions of community land rights further legitimize the centrality of the state in land governance. Highlighting the institutional competition between state and customary authorities, as well as among customary authorities, our findings emphasize the centrality of the state – however limited its presence may be – in land governance, and nuance political economy analyses that overemphasize the role of ethnicity in land contestation in South Sudan.