Academic journal article African Studies Review

Insights from the Cocoa Regions in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana: Rethinking the Migration-Conflict Nexus

Academic journal article African Studies Review

Insights from the Cocoa Regions in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana: Rethinking the Migration-Conflict Nexus

Article excerpt

Abstract:

Although many scholars have noted the salience of mobility throughout the African continent, there has been little systematic investigation into the link between migration and conflict. Most scholarship has tended to see migration as primarily a by-product of conflict and not as a security issue in its own right. In analyzing and contrasting the different migration-conflict trajectories across two similar case studies-Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana-this article attempts to develop an empirically informed theoretical framework for understanding the nexus between migration and conflict in Africa and to shed light on key intervening variables linking migration processes with violent outcomes.

Résumé: Même si plusieurs spécialistes ont remarqué la saillance de la mobilité à travers le continent africain, il y a eu peu d'investigations systématiques sur les liens entre les phénomènes de migration et de conflits. La recherche a eu tendance à considérer la migration comme effet secondaire des conflits, et non comme un problème de sécurité en lui-même. À travers l'analyse et la comparaison de trajectoires différentes du lien migration-conflit à travers deux études similaires sur le Ghana et la Côte d'Ivoire, cet article tente d'établir un cadre théorique basé sur une étude empirique pour comprendre le lien entre les processus de migration et de conflit en Afrique, et afin d'essayer de mettre en lumière les éléments clé contextuels reliant les phénomènes de migration avec des aboutissements violents.

While numerous factors contribute to producing violent conflict in Africa, there is general agreement that the origins of political disorder are mosdy internal to the nation-state and that the greatest source of insecurity in Africa is intrastate conflict, as shown by the prevalence of civil war in recent decades (see Bates 2008; Collier et al. 2009; Sambanis 2002; Williams 2007). Central to many internal conflicts in Africa are the roles of interethnic tensions and the exploitation of natural resources. The literature on ethnic conflict has explored the multiple ways in which such tensions can lead to internal conflict-through heightened insecurity (Posen 1993), through the psychology of group juxtapositions (Horowitz 2000), or by virtue of the instrumentalist roles of elites in provoking ethnic violence (Fearon & Laitin 2000). Yet many scholars have cautioned against overemphasizing the role of ethnicity in contributing to violent conflict, noting the importance of alternative explanations (Fearon & Laitin 2003) and warning against ethnic bias that may result in an overestimation of incidences of ethnic violence (Brubaker & Laitin 1998). Recent scholarship has gone so far as to challenge the usefulness of the concept of ethnic conflict altogether, taking aim at the notion of ethnic warfare (Mueller 2000), the merits of the "ethnic conflict framework" (Gilley 2004), and the emphasis on ethnic groups as a unit of analysis (Brubaker 2004). The role of natural resources in contributing to internal conflict is equally contentious. While armed conflicts and natural resources can be directly related in two main ways-"armed conflicts motivated by the control of resources, and resources integrated into the financing of armed conflicts" (Le Billon 2001:580)-there is no consensus on the actual dynamics involved in such a link, as demonstrated by the diverging literature on natural resources and conflict. Thus, while ethnicity and natural resources remain important variables in explaining internal conflict, they tell only part of a complex story. What other variables, then, might be important in contributing to the outbreak of internal conflict in the African context?

Although many scholars have noted the salience of mobility throughout Africa, there has been little systematic investigation into the link between migration and conflict. Migration has generally been seen as a by-product of conflict and not as a security issue in its own right. …

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