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Cultural and Social Anthropology

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Local Strategies of Conflict Management in Guinea-Bissau

Funding: Volkswagenstiftung

Cooperation partners: Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (INEP), National Study and Research Institute of Guinea-Bissau

Funding period: 2006-2013

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Georg Klute


Over the last two decades, Africa has seen fundamental changes which have led, among other things, to the fragmentation of state structures and to increasingly more heterogeneous political settings. During the same period, non-state political actors appeared on the complex political stage. The emergence of these actors can be explained by the “weakness” or even the “absence” of the African State; but it may also indicate a particular vitality of social and political power on the local level. We do not yet know if these informal (non-state) polities are ephemeral, doomed to disappear as soon as the state regains power. Whatever the case, if they are to last they have to cope with the “violence problem”, as any kind of political order has. Modes of conflict resolution must be developed, particularly in the case of violent conflicts, besides or parallel to conflict resolution modes by the state. As a matter of course, we put it that it is the ability to cope with the “violence problem” and to employ regular strategies of conflict resolution that decides about the future of those informal political orders besides the state. The project therefore aims at looking into local strategies of conflict resolution in Guinea-Bissau and their articulation with the respective legal systems of conflict resolution on a national and, possibly, international level. Furthermore, we seek to find out the conditions under which local strategies of conflict resolution could possibly be integrated into the national legal system on a constitutional basis.

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