Causes and trajectories of local conflict among pastoral peoples in Northeast Africa

Pastoralist societies in Africa are claimed to be prone to violence due to structural conditions of environmental vulnerability, scarcity of resources and decentralized sociopolitical organization. Their contacts with expanding State structures and with neighbouring groups in different socioeconomic conditions are seen to add to instability, due to the underlying hegemonic project of national States, while major economic and demographic changes also play a role. This paper presents a comparative overview of factors that come into play in the ‘production of conflict’ in and between pastoral societies, focusing on Northeast Africa. It contends that while conflict was a regular feature of life in traditional pastoral societies, its nature and frequency have significantly changed in the confrontation with State forces, whereby unresolved tensions between traditional and ‘modern’ judicial conflict regulation mechanisms play a role. External agencies approach these pastoral societies in conflict without paying proper attention to the larger political-economic context in which they operate and which constrains them in a political and ideological sense. A number of case studies reveal that structural instability in contemporary pastoral societies is usually not properly interpreted by outside agencies and not easily ‘resolved’. App., bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]

Title: Causes and trajectories of local conflict among pastoral peoples in Northeast Africa
Author: Abbink, Jon
Year: 2007
Periodical: Ethiopian Journal of the Social Sciences and Humanities (ISSN 1810-4487)
Volume: 5
Issue: 1
Period: June
Pages: 25-42
Language: English
Notes: biblio. refs.
Geographic terms: Northeast Africa
Africa
External link: https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ejossah/article/view/200608
Abstract: Pastoralist societies in Africa are claimed to be prone to violence due to structural conditions of environmental vulnerability, scarcity of resources and decentralized sociopolitical organization. Their contacts with expanding State structures and with neighbouring groups in different socioeconomic conditions are seen to add to instability, due to the underlying hegemonic project of national States, while major economic and demographic changes also play a role. This paper presents a comparative overview of factors that come into play in the ‘production of conflict’ in and between pastoral societies, focusing on Northeast Africa. It contends that while conflict was a regular feature of life in traditional pastoral societies, its nature and frequency have significantly changed in the confrontation with State forces, whereby unresolved tensions between traditional and ‘modern’ judicial conflict regulation mechanisms play a role. External agencies approach these pastoral societies in conflict without paying proper attention to the larger political-economic context in which they operate and which constrains them in a political and ideological sense. A number of case studies reveal that structural instability in contemporary pastoral societies is usually not properly interpreted by outside agencies and not easily ‘resolved’. App., bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]