Emmanuel Viret

Dealing with the dynamics of rural violence under the multi-party transition (1991-1994), this paper suggests new points of view on the mobilization of Rwandan peasantry during the genocide (1994). Going through local archives and interviews held in the hills and in four prisons of the country, the analysis focuses on the increasing development of an economy of violence. The multi-party system incited competing rural elites to recruit a growing number of men and ruffians against other contenders in order to assure their access to power. Local elites (re)formed patron-client links previously dried by the spreading of money and wage incomes in the countryside. Particular attention is paid to the dimension of political entrepreneurship and to the relationship between social brokers and rural elites, in the course of the struggle between political parties as well as during the building of the Power coalitions which led the massacres locally.

The Darfur crisis has shed light on unresolved crises at its borders in Chad and the Central African Republic. What these various conflicts most have in common is probably the existence of transnational armed movements that endure and reorganize in the fringes created by state dynamics in the region as well as the aporias of the international community’s conflict-resolution policies doubled by the choices of certain major powers. An analysis of the situation in the Central African Republic and the history of certain armed movements active in this regional space argues in favor of a less conventional approach to crisis-solving strategies. It points up a zone centered on the Central African Republic and its borders with neighboring countries as the real site for the analysis of armed factionalism since the wave of independence and the specific trajectories of state-building.

Denis-Constant Martin

The emergence of political movements, which have recently taken the centre stage in Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharian Africa, has raised once again the question of the preconditions for, and the forms of, political change. In particular it draws attention to the relationship between lasting phenomena -those which, at least in certain respects, indicate social continuity - and phenomena which fundamentally disturb the social order bringing in their wake immediate change. One two-fold interpretation of these developments has been particularly persuasive. On the one hand, as far as Europe is concerned, it is suggested that there has been a "return to a previously flouted identity" or "refinding of the past". As for Africa, these changes are described in terms of "tribalism" or "clanish reactions". Unfortunately such an interpretation does not help us to fully understand the interactions between long-lasting and short-lived phenomena. The paper proposes several ways to go beyond this dichotomy and to avoid over or underestimating phenomena of one kind to the detriment of those of the other. It suggests that the cultural impregnation of political systems, practices and representations can be analytically reconstructed within the concept of "political culture". This concept both embraces the idea of dynamism (giving impetus to political innovation) while taking into account the complexity of the means of transmission (assuring continuity). Arguing from the assumption that continuity feeds innovation, this paper examines three types of duality: the dialectic between external and internal dynamics; the emotional/rational dichotomy and the opposition between tradition and innovation. All of these must be observed both within the "official" political arena as well as in contexts that, while ostensibly non-political, can be "invested" by political thought and action.