Accepted paper:

Human Network in and around an Armed Group: The Interwoven Thread of the Local, National, and Global Dimensions in the Kamajors of Sierra Leone

Author:

Hideyuki Okano (Kindai University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses how human networks in and around an armed group are constructed in the changing situations of the armed conflicts in Sierra Leone (1991-2002). Through this discussion it demonstrates the multi-dimensionality of warscapes, spanning local, international and global arenas.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses how human networks in and around an armed group are constructed in the changing situations of the armed conflicts in Sierra Leone (1991-2002). Anthropologists have explored various dimensions of 'warscapes' (Nordstorm 1997). Ethnographies on refugees, on child soldiers, and on combatants elucidate the lives and practices on specific groups of people. These researches might contribute to understand one dimension of the armed conflicts. However, their descriptions are limited to targeted groups. They cannot help but exclude other significant actors because they are 'out of research focus.' Such accounts do not adequately grasp the multi-dimensionality of the warscape, and the interrelatedness of the actors constituting it. In order to surmount the problem, I have carried out fieldwork on human networks in and around an armed group. An armed group is constituted by leaders, cadres, commanders, combatants, and staffs of logistical support. In addition, their families and girlfriends also reside in military camps. Civilians spend their daily lives in the occupied territories. They construct human networks across the differences of the respective social positions of the various groups. An armed group is the hub of the network, but the networks are not confined to the armed groups. I conducted research in Sierra Leone on such human networks of Kamajors, a pro-governmental militia. In the network, the threads of human relations are interwoven by subsuming the local, the international and the global dimensions of the armed conflict. These networks develop in the course of the war. In the changing situations of the armed conflict, some of the relations are maintained, while some relations have disintegrated.

panel SE32
Anthropology of peace and war in contemporary Asia and Africa: reflections on the meaning of 'hybridity' and 'the everyday' in conflict studies