A contribution to the anthropology of war and violence
1 map, 24 b/w photographs, 1 figure, 5 tables, glossary, indices: 1. personal, ethnic and place names, 2. subject index, appendix: Songs and poems
Text language: German
From an outsider’s point of view, the rebellions of the Tuareg may appear as hardly spectacular events – particularly in comparison to other ongoing wars in Africa. They took place in barren and remote areas of the states of Mali and Niger which are among the poorest and least known countries of the world; they did not pose a serious threat to adjacent states, let alone universal peace; they did not pique the interest of third parties so that external military interventions were held off; and they affected a comparatively small number of people.
The Tuareg rebellions are part of a series of current wars in Africa and other areas of the so called Third World which bear a close relation to the emergence and failure of the (modern) state. Just like the establishment of colonial states in Africa involved massive violence, so does the decline of the post-colonial state. Particularly the collapse of the state’s monopoly on violence and the wars resulting from it account for the diagnosis that the utopian conception of the western state model is to a large extent doomed to failure in post-colonial Africa. The fragility of many African states does not only reveal that the statal monopoly on violence is susceptible to breakdown, but also offers to ethnic groups the possibility to successfully enforce their own perceptions of social organisation, based on their tradition, against the model of the state.
The present study addresses two tasks: to contribute to both the historical investigation of the Tuareg rebellions as well as to the Social/Cultural Anthropology and Sociology of War. On the basis of the question why it is precisely the Tuareg that violently rose up and took a stand against the respective central governments of the multi-ethnic states of Mali and Niger, the author deals with three subject fields: He traces processes of ethnic identity building and differentiation among the Tuareg as well as the development of relations to neighbouring ethnic groups, then decodes the emic logic and internal justification behind the resort to violence and finally examines the relation of the Tuareg to the post-colonial state, therefrom deducing further statements about the character of statal power in this part of Africa.