Over the past four years the Ivoirian crisis has seen as its central dynamic the mobilization of the categories of autochthony and territorialized belonging in an ultranationalist discourse vehicled by the party in power. More than just a struggle to the death for state power, the conflict involves the redefinition of the content of citizenship and the conditions of sovereignty. The explosion of violence and counterviolence provoked and legitimated by the mobilization of these categories does not necessarily signify either the triumph of those monolithic identities “engineered” during the colonial occupation, nor the disintegration of the nation-state in the context of globalization. The Ivoirian case shows the continued vitality of the nation-state: not only as the principal space in terms of which discourses of authochtony are constructed, but also in terms of the techniques and categories that the political practice of autochthony puts into play. While in some senses the Ivoirian conflict appears to be a war without borders—in particular with the “spillover” of the Liberian war in the west during 2003—it is above all a war about borders, crystallizing in liminal spaces and social categories and on emerging practices and ways of life.
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