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‘Enough is Enough’: an ethnography of the struggle against impunity in Burkina Faso

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2002

Sten Hagberg
Department of Cultural Anthropology & Ethnology, Uppsala University.


This article analyses the ways in which socio-political opposition is expressed by looking into the morally loaded discourse of political legitimacy in Burkina Faso that emerged after the assassination of the journalist Norbert Zongo in December 1998. Through the analysis of different political statements, newspapers and various comments from the ‘street’, it locates the struggle against impunity in a social and political undercurrent in Burkinabe society. In this context, notions of the public space are central, because the public space defines both the boundaries of public debate and the behaviour of key political actors. Two recurrent themes in Burkinabe political discourse, namely ideas of truth and courage, and the legitimacy of White people, illustrate the various ways in which socio-political opposition seeks to define the public space within which politics is to be practised and the behaviour to be observed by those acting there. But the struggle against impunity also takes place on a symbolic level at which key symbols are appropriated, interpreted and incorporated into political discourse.

Research Article
© 2002 Cambridge University Press

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