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Prominent Peripheries: the Role of Borderlands in Central Africa’s Regionalized Conflict.

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Critical African Studies



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The Great Lakes region of Central Africa has been beset by conflict for close to two decades now. Aside from the unprecedented humanitarian consequences, the most striking feature of the violence has been its profoundly regional character. This paper seeks to explore how one might better understand the spread and cross-border nature of conflict in this region. It argues that the dominant contemporary model for explanation of regional conflict, with its overwhelmingly state-centric orientation, is inadequate in providing a comprehensive understanding of the structure of this type of violence. Rather, the so-called peripheries of states – borderlands – need to be taken as not only the starting point, but also the actual central referent point when it comes to regional conflict analysis. This paper demonstrates how the regional conflict involving the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda is constituted in part through phenomena located in the borderlands. These are unique cross-border dynamics that emanate from the presence of the borders themselves, and the borderlands' positions of being on the margins of states; they operate in the form of destabilizing socio-political and military–economic networks. Ultimately, the extreme regionalization of conflict in areas such as that of the Great Lakes of Central Africa cannot be properly understood without consideration of the role played by such borderland dynamics.

Citation of this paper:

Scorgie, L. (2013). Prominent peripheries: the role of borderlands in Central Africa’s regionalized conflict. Critical African Studies, 5(1), 32–47. https://doi.org/10.1080/21681392.2013.774550

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