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The War of “Who Is Who”: Autochthony, Nationalism, and Citizenship in the Ivoirian Crisis


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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R. Banégas , and B. Losch . 2002. La Côte d'Ivoire au bord de l'implosion. Politique Africaine 87: 139–62.

J.-F. Bayart , P. Geschiere , and F. Nyamnjoh . 2001. “Autochtonie, démocratic et citoyenneté en Afrique.” Critique Internationale 10 (01).

J.-P. Chauveau 2000. “Question foncière et construction nationale en Côte d'Ivoire. Les enjeux silencieux d'un coup d'État.” Politique Africaine 78: 94125.

J.-P. Chauveau , and K. S. Bobo . 2003. “La situation de guerre dans l'arène villageoise. Un exemple dans le Centre-Ouest ivoirien.” Politique Africaine 89: 1232.

P. Geschiere , and F. Nyamnjoh . 2000. “Capitalism and Autochthony: The Seesaw of Mobility and Belonging.” Public Culture 12 (2).

Y. Konaté 2003. “Les enfants de la balle. De la FESCI aux mouvements des patriotes.” Politique Africaine 89: 4970.

A. Mbembe 2000. “A propos des écritures africaines de soi.” Politique Africaine 77: 1643.

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
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