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Periodical article Periodical article ASC Leiden catalogue ASC Leiden catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Politics of ethnicity in Monrovia, Liberia and Kankan, Guinea: a comparative analysis
Authors:Ammann, Carole
Kaufmann, Andrea
Year:2012
Periodical:Mande Studies
Issue:14
Pages:57-97
Language:English
Geographic terms:Guinea
Liberia
Subjects:Manding
Fulani
ethnicity
politics
elections
ethnic conflicts
Abstract:This article analyses discursive formations of ethnicity, narratives of unity and reconciliation, and lived realities by comparing the current situation in Monrovia, Liberia with that in Kankan, Guinea. It addresses the historical, political and social circumstances that influence the emergence and existence of ethnic tensions, and the changes therein. Western media often portray conflicts in Africa in an ethnic light. This, however, is a shallow approach, which does not facilitate understanding the problem in its complexity. It is shown that in most instances of everyday life, ethnic identity does not play a pivotal role, as social actors interact habitually with one another. Yet, ethnicity is widely used in an interpretive pattern. It forms part of the interaction between political leaders and the population and it is an issue between different groups within society. Ethnicity is often emphasized in times of parliamentary or presidential elections, which increases the risk of violence. This problem is not unique to Guinea and Liberia. In Liberia, President Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia avoided addressing ethnic issues in her speeches in order to prevent tensions from building with the Manding, who are Muslim. President Alpha Condé of Guinea, however, made explicit use of ethnic cleavages between the Manding and Fulani. Of course, both presidents are aware of the need for reconciliation, but their approaches towards the issue differ significantly. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leidenabstract]
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