Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin (Doktorandin)
Teilprojekt C05: Die Bedrohung politischer Ordnungen in afrikanischen Entwicklungsländern
Dissertationsprojekt im Rahmen des SFB 923
Thema: To Rebel or to March for Freedom? Explaining the Use of Violent or Non-Violent Protest Strategies of Self-Determination Movements in Senegal and Zambia by Reference to Framing
Abstract: Empirical evidence and theoretical work suggest that conflicts over self-determination are particularly likely to escalate into very violent and protracted civil wars. Therefore, one could deduce that Africa South of the Sahara is especially affected by armed conflict over secession as the existing borders are arbitrary and thus internally contested due to colonial rule. In addition, violent struggle seems highly feasible due to weak state capacity, availability of small arms, and ethnic diversity that can easily be instrumentalised to mobilise combatants. However, there were – and still are – surprisingly little secessionist conflicts in Sub-Sahara Africa and very few of them are accompanied by violent claims for self-determination. Instead, in many instances social movements seek secession through non-violent protest. Using the examples of Zambia and Senegal, this paper aims to elucidate why some African self-determination movements choose non-violent collective action, while others claim secession through violent rebellion despite similar circumstances. Prevailing theories on violent conflict cannot explain this variation in behaviour. Thus, the thesis will resort to the framing approach. Framing can help to include a micro-approach into conflict studies. It reveals how movements interpret and construct their environment, and how this translates into specific strategies of mobilisation and – violent or non-violent – action. Not only does such an approach help to identify micro-mechanisms explaining the escalation of violence, but it also yields insights into internal dynamics of protest movements as well as their strategic interaction with their environment.