n Ubuntu : Journal of Conflict and Social Transformation - How African civil wars hibernate : the warring communities of the Senegal / Guinea Bissau borderlands in the face of the Casamance forgotten civil war and the Bissau-Guinean state failure

Volume 1, Issue 1_2
  • ISSN : 2078-760X
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4950


This article focuses on the issue of how civil wars survive (post) conflict resolution and reconstruction policies at the edges of states through the local dynamics of cross-border areas. Focusing on the regional space of the Senegal/Guinea-Bissau border, it argues that the various manifestations of the Casamance "forgotten civil war" overlap with the effects of state failure in neighbouring Guinea-Bissau to help build and nurture a local history and territoriality of violence and wariness, which is aggravated when local communities of the frontier are reduced to developing cross-border strategies of survival in the face of scarcity and poverty. Hence, the border area stands as an in vitro nest where civil wars, or their root causes in both countries, remain dormant while their belligerent potentials are increasing. This situation owes much to the local politics of cross-border governmentality in which natural resources, transboundary crime, socioeconomic dynamics and community relations are the important driving forces. Consequently, we put into question the failures of interstate plans to territorialise this conflict and the local regional dynamics through which it is daily manifested. The analysis also pays attention to how the national politics of neopatrimonialism prolonged in local politics hinders the political representation and the socioeconomic development of the borderland areas and communities, while the patronage interventionism of the Senegalese government in Guinea-Bissau fails to encircle the Casamance separatism. The article concludes that intergovernmental initiatives should integrate community attempts that successfully mitigate the throes of violence in borderlands.

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