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Peace in West Africa's Conflict Zone 

Till Förster

University of Basel, Faculty of Philosophy and History, Department of Social Sciences

Research on violent conflicts has primarily focused on causes and driving forces, often in a functionalist, rational choice perspective, as well as on the effects of violence on social life. The emergence and persistence of peaceful social orders in violent conflicts is largely neglected. This project fills this gap by looking at the grounding of larger developments in social relations on the micro level, stressing the peace–space nexus. It concentrates on the making of a peaceful social order instead of focusing on conflict and violence as disruptive forces and thus reverses conventional perspectives. We aim at understanding why certain spaces remained or became peaceful in violent contexts. We refer to such spaces as pockets of peace, conceiving such pockets as social spaces that accommodate social and cultural difference. Together with an international and interdisciplinary team, we examine social agency and practice in the formation and persistence of peaceful spaces in an area of generalised violence, West Africa’s Conflict Zone.

Central questions are: Why did some spaces in areas of generalised violence remain or become peaceful? What do their social and political regimes look like? What makes them attractive or irrelevant for violent actors? What can we learn from such peaceful spaces with regard to social and political theory? Based on fieldwork conducted in 2016 and 2017, this talk presents first findings from northern Côte d’Ivoire.


April 26, 2017


Internationales Kolleg Morphomata
Weyertal 59
50937 Köln