Civil Society as a Postcolonial Project: Challenging Normative Notions in Post-conflict Sub-Saharan Africa

Chapter

Abstract

External or international efforts to establish peace and foster sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa have been harshly critiqued for imposing “top-down” or culturally insensitive approaches to re-building these states. In response, there has been a burgeoning interest in the role and involvement of local civil society in peacebuilding and development processes among academics and practitioners alike. The “local turn” in peacebuilding and development research and practice notwithstanding, the accounts on the role, function, potential or activities of civil societies in peacebuilding processes seem to be largely detached from a considerable body of postcolonial literature that questions the appropriation of the concept of civil society in ‘non-Western’ environments. Against this backdrop, this chapter explores the consequences of applying a ‘Westernized’ and normative conception of civil society to sub-Saharan African post-conflict settings. It is divided into three main sections: The first part briefly discusses the term “civil society” as it emerged as an idea in ‘Western’ philosophy and the history of political thought. The second part sheds light on the utility of the concept of civil society in ‘non-Western’ contexts with a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa. The third part then addresses the adverse effects of normativity when it comes to approaching the concept of civil society in postcolonial and post-conflict equatorial Africa. The central argument will be that civil society in post-conflict sub-Saharan Africa has to be regarded as an empirical and not purely normative concept to enable local societies to come to terms with a colonial, postcolonial and conflict-shattered past.

References

  1. Allen C (1997) Who needs civil society? Rev Afr Polit Econ 24(73):329–337Google Scholar
  2. Barkawi T, Laffey M (2001) Democracy, liberalism, and war: rethinking the democratic peace debate. Lynne Rienner Publishers, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Chabal P (1996) The African crisis: Context and interpretation. In: Werbner RP, Ranger TO (eds) Postcolonial identities in Africa. Zed Books, London, pp 31–53Google Scholar
  4. Chabal P, Daloz J-P (1999) Africa works: disorder as political instrument. James Currey, WoodbridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. Chambers S, Kymlicka W (2002) Alternative conceptions of civil society. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  6. Chatterjee P (2004) The politics of the governed: reflections on popular politics in most of the world. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen JL, Arato A (1994) Civil society and political theory. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  8. Comaroff JL, Comaroff J (1999) Civil society and the political imagination in Africa: critical perspectives. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  9. Cubitt C (2013) Constructing civil society: an intervention for building peace? Peacebuilding 1(1):91–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Datzberger S (2014) Peacebuilding and the depoliticisation of civil society: Sierra Leone [2002–2013]. London School of Economics and Political Scieneses.lse.ac.uk/1037/1/Datzberger_Peacebuilding_and_the_Depoliticisation_of_Civil_Society.pdf. Accessed 11 May 2015
  11. Datzberger S (2015a) Civil society in sub-Saharan African post-conflict states: a Western induced idea? J für Entwicklungspolitik 31(1):13–29Google Scholar
  12. Datzberger S (2015b) Peace building and the depoliticisation of civil society: Sierra Leone 2002–13. Third World Q 36(8):1592–1609CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. de Tocqueville A (1864) De la démocratie en Amérique par Alexis de Tocqueville, vol 1–2. Michel Lévy Frères, ParisGoogle Scholar
  14. Debiel T, Sticht M (2005) Towards a new profile? Development, humanitarian and conflict-resolution NGOs in the age of globalization. Institute for Development and Peaedoc.vifapol.de/opus/volltexte/2013/4528/pdf/report79.pdf. Accessed 23 July 2015
  15. DFID (2013) DFID civil society department operational plan. Department for International Development www.gov.uk/government/publications/dfid-civil-society-department-operational-plan-2013. Accessed 30 Aug 2015
  16. Easterly W (2007) The white man’s burden. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  17. Ekeh PP (1975) Colonialism and the two publics in Africa: a theoretical statement. Comp Stud Soc Hist 17(1):91–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ferguson J (2006) Global shadows: Africa in the neoliberal world order. Duke University Press, Durham, NCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ferguson J, Gupta A (2002) Spatializing states: toward an ethnography of neoliberal governmentality. Am Ethnol 29(4):981–1002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fitzduff M (2004) Civil society and peacebuilding: the new fifth estate? Seminar Document 1.2. Seminar on Civil Society-UN Interaction for Conflict Preventi www.un-ngls.org/orf/cso/FifthEstate.pdf. Accessed 23 July 2015
  21. Gellner E (1994) Conditions of liberty: civil society and its rivals. Allen Lane/Penguin Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Goetschel L, Hagmann T (2009) Civilian peacebuilding: peace by bureaucratic means? Conflict Secur Dev 9(1):55–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gramsci A (2010) In: Buttigieg JA (ed) Prison notebooks. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Habermas J (1991) The structural transformation of the public sphere: an inquiry into a category of bourgeois society. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  25. Hahonou EK, Pelckmans L (2011) West African antislavery movements: Citizenship struggels and the legacies of slavery. Stichproben Wiener Zeitschrift fuer kritische Afrikastudien 20:141–162Google Scholar
  26. Hall JR (1995) Civil society: theory, history, comparison. Polity Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  27. Harbeson JW, Rothchild D, Chazan N (1994) Civil society and the state in Africa. Lynne Rienner Publishers, LondonGoogle Scholar
  28. Hawthorn G (2001) The promise of “civil society” in the South. In: Kaviraj S, Khilnani S (eds) Civil society: history and possibilities. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 269–286Google Scholar
  29. Herbst J (1989) The creation and maintenance of national boundaries in Africa. Int Organ 43(4):673–692CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Howell J, Pearce J (2002) Civil society and development: a critical exploration. Lynne Rienner Publishers, LondonGoogle Scholar
  31. Jenkins R (2001) Mistaking “governance” for “politics”. In: Kaviraj S, Khilnani S (eds) Civil society: history and possibilities. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 250–268Google Scholar
  32. Kaldor M (2003) Global civil society: an answer to war. Blackwell, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  33. Kaviraj S, Khilnani S (2001) Civil society: history and possibilities. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  34. Keane J (1988) Civil society and the state: New European perspectives. Verso, LondonGoogle Scholar
  35. Keane J (1998) Civil society: old images, new visions. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  36. Larok A (2012) The role of civil society in a changing political context. Reflections from Uganda. Discussion Paper. ActionAid. http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/the_role_of_civil_society_in_a_changing_political_context_arusha_paper_f.._.pdf. Accessed 22 June 2015
  37. Lewis D (2001) Civil society in non-Western contexts: reflections on the “usefulness” of a concept. Centre for Civil Society, London School of Economics and Political Science. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/29052/1/CSWP13_web.pdf. Accessed 13 May 2015
  38. Lumumba-Kasongo T (2005) Liberal democracy and its critics in Africa: political dysfunction and the struggle for progress. Zed Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  39. Mamdani M (1996) Citizen and subject: contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  40. Maslow AH (1943) A theory of human motivation. Psychol Rev 50(4):370–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Michalopoulos S, Papaioannou E (2011) The long-run effects of the scramble for Africa. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. OECD (2013) Aid for CSOs. Statistics based on DAC members’ reporting to the Creditor Reporting System database. OECD. http://www.oecd.org/dac/peer-reviews/Aid for CSOs Final for WEB.pdf. Accessed 11 May 2015
  43. Paffenholz T (ed) (2010) Civil society and peacebuilding: a critical assessment. Lynne Rienner Publishers, LondonGoogle Scholar
  44. Paffenholz T, Spurk C (2006) Civil society, civic engagement, and peacebuilding. The World Bank. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTCPR/Resources/WP36_web.pdf. Accessed 23 July 2015
  45. Paris R (2004) At war’s end: building peace after civil conflict. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Piot C (1999) Remotely global: village modernity in West Africa. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  47. Republic of Uganda (2010) Vision 2040. http://npa.ug/wp-content/themes/npatheme/documents/vision2040.pdf. Accessed 12 Nov 2014
  48. Salamon LM (1994) The rise of the nonprofit sector. Foreign Aff 73(4):109–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Straus S (2012) Wars do end! Changing patterns of political violence in sub-Saharan Africa. Afr Aff 111(443):179–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Thue N, Makubuya AN, Nakirunda M (2002) Report of a study on the civil society in Uganda. Royal Norwegian Embassy in Uganda, KampalaGoogle Scholar
  51. UN PBF (2009) PBF/SLE/A-6 Project Status Report. http://mptf.undp.org/factsheet/project/00071610. Accessed 23 July 2015
  52. UNDP (2012) UNDP strategy on civil society and civic engagement. UNDP. http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/civil_society/UNDP-Strategy-on-Civil-Society-and-Civic-Engagement-2012.html. Accessed 11 May 2015
  53. Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) (2015) Uppsala conflict data program (UCDP). http://www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/search.php. Accessed 23 July 2015
  54. Van Tongeren P, Brenk M, Hellema M, Verhoeven J (eds) (2005) People building peace II: successful stories of civil society. Lynne Rienner Publishers, LondonGoogle Scholar
  55. Verkoren W, van Leeuwen M (2012) Complexities and challenges for civil society building in post-conflict settings. J Peacebuilding Dev 7(1):81–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Verkoren W, van Leeuwen M (2013) Civil society in peacebuilding: global discourse, local reality. Int Peacekeep 20(2):159–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wennmann A (2010) Aid effectiveness between “Top-down” and “Bottom-up” statebuilding. The Graduate Institute Geneva. http://graduateinstitute.ch/files/live/sites/iheid/files/sites/ccdp/shared/Docs/Publications/Workingpaper_6_BD.pdf. Accessed 23 July 2015

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marie-Curie Research Fellow, Department of Human Geography StudiesPlanning and International Development, University of AmsterdamAmsterdamNetherlands

Personalised recommendations