Accepted Paper:

Potentia and presentia: on the dynamics of peace and conflict in Bissau  

Author:

Henrik Vigh (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the way young combatants, in Bissau, make sense of the prolonged period of turmoil, that has characterised political life in the country, and illuminates the effects that continuous conflict has had on their ideas of social and individual possibilities and potentials

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on conflict as potentia and presentia in Bissau, West Africa. It shows how conflict is perceived as a constantly present social condition and illuminates how war is understood as the manifestation of this underlying bellicose potential. War and peace are not sequential but coexisting political modalities in Bissau. Rather than being a normal state of affairs calm is seen as the uncertain period between turbulence. Focusing on the experiential effects of inhabiting such chronically unstable environments the paper examines how young combatants internalise the tumultuous social situation into negative self images. It illuminates how they have come to envision themselves as bearers of socially destructive potentials, rather than the unfortunate inhabitants of zones of prolonged conflict and scarcity, and dwells on the consequences of this negative social imaginary.

Panel IW06
Connecting peace and violence: zones, transgressions and causes