Politics in a Moral Twilight: Vigilantism on the Margins of Peacebuilding, Human Rights, and the Sahel Crises
Funding: Fritz Thyssen Stiftung
Duration: until November 2023
Project lead and execution: Prof. Dr. Melina C. Kalfelis
The research project explores governance practices of vigilante groups in Burkina Faso. In focus is the simultaneity of moral ends and fierce that provides the basis of ambivalence surrounding
vigilantism in West Africa. This project labels this paradox of opposing ends and means “politics in the moral twilight,” a paradox that vigilantes must constantly balance through their everyday practices. The primary goal of this research project is to understand how vigilantes manage this balancing act and how they render moral ambivalence expedient if not functional to their governance. At the present time we still lack an understanding of how vigilantes in Africa establish feared and at the same time highly legitimate political institutions. The project will provide ethnographic details about the tightrope walking that becomes tangible during conflict mediations in which the interests and ambitions of the different participants collide. These mediations appear as imminent processes of moral and political change in West Africa and can be studied as a moral engine through which the Koglweogos visibly disrupt the ordinary and work towards new moral equilibriums in the political sphere.