Accepted Paper:

Nationalist ideologies and folk-anthropologies: colonial legacies and their transformation in the Ivory Coast  
Armando Cutolo (University of Siena)

Paper short abstract:

In the 1990’s, Ivory Coast witnessed the birth of a new nationalist ideology, the 'ivoirité'. This ideology and its rhetorics can be seen as the last transformation of a colonial system of differences and inequalities that has shaped postcolonial politics and the economic development of Ivory Coast.

Paper long abstract:

In the mid-1990's, in the context of the "war of the elites" caused by succession to president Houphouët-Boigny (who died in 1993), Ivory Coast has witnessed the birth of a new ethno-nationalist ideology, the "ivoirité". This was conceived by academics and intellectuals of the entourage of Henry Konan Bedié (president ad interim until the elections of 1995) as an instrument for the political fight against his adversary Alassane Ouattara, accused to be a "foreigner" of "burk-inabé" origin. Ivoirité was a conceptualization of citizenship based on the rhetorics of (relative) autochthonous origins, strictly related to what has been defined, by its ideologists, as the "problem of foreigners" in Ivory Coast. Among its explicit objectives was the definition of an ivorian "us" as opposed to a "them" (the strangers), in order to defend the ivorian identity and sovereignty, seen as menaced by a migration that had reached the proportion of almost one third of the population of the country. In the same years, and in the climate of social tensions created by political competition and economic crisis, local communities (ethnically, regionally, culturally defined) started to claim their ivoirité through a plurality of discourses. Autochthony; historical anteriority of settlement in the ivorian territory; pretended essential links between a specific ethnic, religious or cultural identity and the construction of the Ivorian national identity: all have been used as rhetoric devices in the arena of the politics of identity, giving birth to a folk-anthropology of citizenship that has played a specific ideological role in the subsequent Ivorian conflict.

The aim of the paper is to show how categories displayed in the ideology of "ivoirité" and in the folk-anthropology above mentioned, have colonial origins. These can be detected not only in the ethnological classifications (those of Delafosse, Tauxier etc.) connected to the colonial "politique des races", but also -and in the first instance- in the continuity of the economic development and population politics conceived and imposed to ivorian society by colonial authorities and postcolonial ruling elites, until the beginning of the nineties. In this light, the ideology of ivoirité and his rhetorics reveal themselves as a product of the last transformation undergone by a colonial system of differences and inequalities that has never left public discourse and that has determined the substan-tial constitution of postcolonial Ivory Coast. A transformation towards a modern -and biopolitical- conception of citizenship.

Panel W060
Strategic uses of colonial legacies in postcolonial encounters