African Studies

Uncertainty, innovation and competing orders

Acting with risk und multiple concepts of order, developed in the face of uncertainties and conflicts in Africa, are key aspects of this thematic area. This includes, for instance, the shaping of relations between kin and generations, or the appropriation of technological innovations.

Below are some example projects, providing an insight into the IAS research activity within this area.

Local Strategies of Conflict Management in Guinea-Bissau

Field work in Biombo, Guinea-Bissau (Photo: Borszik)

The project supervised by Prof. Dr. Georg Klute intertwines two positions. First, “state fragility” and the remarkable vitality of local actors in some parts of Africa, and secondly, theoretical debates about the emergence of informal polities within or beside the African State. The research aims at analysing local strategies of conflict management and their articulation with the respective legal systems of conflict resolution at a national and international level.

More informationen here

Conflict regulation and post-conflict processes in Ghana and Uganda

Vermittlungsgespräche - Artur Bogner HPMediation talks (Photo: Artur Bogner)

The project is geared to a study of local processes of conflict regulation and their socio-political consequences, in particular conflict mediation and peace building in the context of "decentral" armed group conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa. We will examine how it is possible for opposing parties to become reconciled or to come closer to each other following small armed conflicts (on a local or provincial scale); we will try to identify the protagonists, institutions and factors that play a significant role in this process, and we will make a study of the new situation that results. From a methodological point of view, our research will be based on historical reconstruction and a comparison of local de-escalation and post-conflict processes in Uganda and Ghana. Our work will be an empirical contribution to research on the development of new forms of conflict regulation and the control of violence (which are probably not in accordance with the model of the 'Weberian' state), and the changes this necessitates in forms of regulation of social action, governance, cooperation and legitimacy. Our interest will be focused in particular on the development of new socio-political arrangements, through a study of everyday "local" practices of conflict management. Important protagonists in these areas are state agencies, traditionally legitimate authorities, civil society stakeholders such as NGOs, and internationally active organisations; it is their complex interaction that constitutes the new socio-political arrangements on the local level. With this special focus, the project considers social processes on the social micro and meso levels in connection with the genesis of forms of "cosmopolitan governance" and “world politics of the interior” in its early stages.

More information here