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Living by the gun in Chad: armed violence as a practical occupation*

  • Marielle Debos (a1)


This article explores men in arms’ conceptions of armed violence in a country which has been prone to a violent cycle of rebellion and repression. Based on ethnographic research in Chad, it analyses combatants’ life trajectories in an unstable political environment and a militarised economy. It moves beyond rebellion towards an analysis of the most mundane patterns of the activities conducted by men in arms, to understand what is at stake beyond times and spaces of war. It argues that armed violence is an ordinary way of expressing contestation, as well as a practical occupation or métier, a French word that indicates a non-institutionalised profession.


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This article was written while the author was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Research was supported by a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship sponsored by the European Commission. It is a contribution to a research programme on the transformations of war funded by the French National Agency for Research (ANR). The author would like to thank Xavier Bougarel, Joshua Craze, Christine Deslaurier, Mariane Ferme, Amélie Le Renard and Louisa Lombard, for their precious comments on earlier drafts.



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