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Afrika Focus  2008 

Marching the nation: an essay on the mobility of belonging among militant youngsters in C te d’Ivoire

Keywords: C te d’Ivoire , groupement patriotique pour la paix , militias , public sphere , governance

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Abstract:

This programmatic paper seeks to develop a new perspective on the military-political identity and performance of militias particularly in urban environments. The militia under consideration is the Groupement Patriotique pour la Paix (GPP), one of the oldest and most prominent of the southern militias. The GPP came into being as a civil society initiative in the aftermath of the September 2002 insurgency in C te d’Ivoire a country which since then has lingered in a no-peace-no-war situation. The new perspective, here called ‘ludus pro patria’, looks at how the militias’ activity, organisation, and discourse is deployed in the urban public sphere and to what effect. Within the scope of this paper, this perspective serves to deconstruct the alleged process of ‘milicianisation’ as the combined effect of discursive appropriation and concrete insinuation of a subaltern youth initiative by national elites and international actors. In conclusion, this paper argues that the proposed approach is essential for a proper understanding of two main dimensions of the militias’ raison d’être and modus operandi: mobility and belonging.

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