African Conflicts and Informal Power : Big Men and Networks


Utas, Mats, ed. 2012. African Conflicts and Informal Power : Big Men and Networks. Zed Books Ltd. 

Author: Mats Utas


In the aftermath of an armed conflict in Africa, the international community both produces and demands from local partners a variety of blueprints for reconstructing state and society. The aim is to re-formalize the state after what is viewed as a period of fragmentation. In reality, African economies and polities are very much informal in character, with informal actors, including so-called Big Men, often using their positions in the formal structure as a means to reach their own goals. Through a variety of in-depth case studies, including the DRC, Sierra Leone and Liberia, African Conflicts and Informal Power shows how important informal political and economic networks are in many of the continent's conflict areas. Moreover, it demonstrates that without a proper understanding of the impact of these networks, attempts to formalize African states, particularly those emerging from wars, will be in vain (WorldCat).


Part one: Country Case Studies

  1. Informal political structures, resources and the Ugandan army; military entrepreneurialism in the Ugandan-Congolese borderland - Koen Vlassenroot and Sandrine Perot
  2. Big Man Business in the Borderland of Sierra Leone - Maya Mynster Christensen
  3. The politics of impersonation: Corps habillés, Nouchis, and subaltern Bigmanity in Côte d’Ivoire - Karel Arnaut
  4. Demobilized or remobilized? Liberia’s remaining rebel structures in post-war security settings - Mariam Persson
  5. Castles in the sand’: Informal networks and power brokers in the Northern Mali periphery - Morten Böås


Part 2: Thematic Case Studies


  1. Critical states and cocaine connections - By Henrik Vigh
  2. African Big Men and international criminal justice: the case of Sierra Leone - By Gerhard Anders
  3. Big Man bargaining in African conflicts - By Ilmari Käihkö
  4. Intermediaries of peace or agents of war: the role of ex-midlevel commanders in Big Man networks - By Anders Themnér
  5. The Big Men commanding conflict resources in Africa: the DRC case - By Ruben de Koning

Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa, Central Africa, West Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone

Year: 2012

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