19 November 2013 §
The Economist had a fantastic article last week on how civil wars end. It’s an accessible summary of a great deal of recent research in political science on this topic. They also had a related piece on civil wars in Africa, with the following map:
One thing I found interesting about this is the relatively low number of combatant fatalities in each conflict. (Note that this isn’t including civilian fatalities, which are inevitably much higher.) The standard definition of a civil war in the political science literature is a conflict between a rebel group and a government which produces at least 1000 combat deaths over one year. By that metric, four of the six conflicts listed here wouldn’t count as civil wars.
5 February 2013 §
A couple of quick hits around African urbanisation:
- Via Matt Jones of Moved 2 Monrovia, I found this graph from October’s Economist on GDP and urbanisation in Africa. Does Liberia reflect the impact of the civil war? I don’t have strong priors on whether war might increase or decrease urbanization rates, and a quick Google Scholar search didn’t turn up any recent research. Then again, Zimbabwe and Madagascar see the same direction of change, and their political conflicts have been much less violent than Liberia’s.
- A list of 2013′s initiatives on urbanisation trends in Africa.
- Lagos, already sub-Saharan Africa’s largest city, will overtake Cairo as the largest city on the entire continent this year. (Kinshasa is currently #3, with nearly ten million people.)
- Finally, I must recommend one of my favorite works of recent anthropology: Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt, by Stanford anthropologist James Ferguson. Ferguson did his fieldwork for this book in Zambia in the last 1980s, when the gaps between post-independence hopes of immediate development and the realities of economic stagnation were dismayingly obvious. He writes deftly of the range of strategies urban copperworkers used to deal with the uncertainty of the period, exploring an interesting disjunct between workers whose plans revolved around maintaining ties with rural associates and planning for a return to the land after retirement, and those who cast their lot more fully with the city, creating new urban subcultures along the way.
3 February 2013 §
After a bit of a hiatus to deal with graduate applications and a busy period at work, the blog should be up and running again! Some conflict-related links to start things off:
- Universiteit Antwerpen hosts a database on power-sharing peace agreements in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Journal of Peace Research has a number of replication datasets available.
- The Nigeria security tracker and ICG’s latest map of insecurity in the Kivus.
- The Africa Report asks who the exemplary armies are in Africa. I think this is a critically understudied issue. There’s plenty of evidence for the ways in which many African armies routinely mistreat civilians or engage in coups, but the fact that many armies don’t engage in such behavior needs to be better understood.
- Jay Ufelder has unveiled his coup forecasts for 2013. Note that Eritrea is nowhere to be found. ICG’s African Peacebuilding Agenda blog has a good write-up of why the recent military unrest in Eritrea shouldn’t be considered a mutiny or a coup threat, although it does clearly reflect other political fault lines in the country.
- Scott Straus writes about why Africa is becoming more peaceful, despite the war in Mali.
19 November 2012 §
I’ve been getting most of my updates on M23′s attacks near Goma from Twitter (in what’s been quite a week for social media and conflict). English-language reporters on the ground in Goma include Melanie Gouby, Phil Moore, Gabriel Gatehouse and Simone Schlindwein. Jonny Hogg is reporting from Kinshasa, and Desiree Lwambo appears to be near Goma but is keeping mum for the moment. Other knowledgeable people providing analysis from outside the DRC include Laura Seay, Jason Stearns, Koen Vlassenroot, Mvemba Dizolele, Tristan McConnell, Christiane Kayser, Christopher Ethuin, and the pseudonymous Digital Djeli.
The best non-Twitter resource I’ve seen is Radio Okapi, the UN-sponsored Congolese station (in French). The UN news site includes limited information on MONUSCO’s response to the conflict, and Kabila’s site has a similarly limited set of articles on the Congolese government’s response. M23′s perspective is provided at their website.
[Update as of 20 November: Add Michael Sharp and Kees Broere to the list of people tweeting from Goma. InnerCity Press and Marcelle Hopkins are providing coverage from the UN in New York.]
4 June 2012 §
Apparently none of the interesting links I’ve come across recently are country-specific:
- I hadn’t realized how many sites covered investment in Africa: Venture Capital for Africa, African Capital Markets News, and Investing in Africa look like some of the best.
- Gorgeous African photography at Kilele and Dynamic Africa, and interesting debates at Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art.
- Loving the mash-ups of African art & journalism at 3bute.
- Good sources for free African music: Awesome Tapes from Africa, Afro-MP3, and Sahelsounds.