The Vagaries of Praetorianism in Mali: Military and Civilian Regimes Amidst Foreign Intervention

A propos

Amid an international resurgence of authoritarian populism, democracy may be failing in West Africa. Mali, which enjoyed thirty years of democratic institution building and donors’ indulgence, has now experienced three coups d’état in a decade. Like several other African nations, it may be witnessing the return of “Khaki Rule” (Nugent 2012). Yet much of the existing literature on African politics—and the paradigms in which it is based—fails to confront this reality. Rather, it is largely focused on democratization and its corollaries, such as elections or civil society.

The current context requires accounting for an increased internationalization of government and the growing involvement of transnational operators of various kinds. While the existing literature on Mali describes the action of international organizations in the social and political transformations of recent decades, our interdisciplinary group proposes to study their articulation with a military regime and the sanctions that emerge in reaction to it. The project is part of a broader collaboration on politics in Mali.

The first concrete steps in this collaboration are two conferences, to be held in 2023 (Paris) and 2024 (New York). The first will analyze a particular form of civilian rule characterized by a tension between internationalization and autonomy amongst the political class. The second will explore the relationship of the military regime with the many international and foreign organizations involved in the administration of the country, as well as its own internal transformations. We will examine the relationship between the military, the civil service, and the political class, looking at the competition for resources, recruitment and appointments within the state apparatus, and the conflicting discourse on political values.

Trans-Atlantic collaboration is vital to this project, which combines an historical orientation with the distinct methodological and epistemological characteristics of political science as practiced in France. 



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