Civilian agency in conflict: Reviving schools under rebel rule in Côte-d'Ivoire (2002-2011)

Date: 24 March 2016

Venue: UAntwerp - Stadscampus - Building S - Nile Room (1st floor) - Grauwzusters, Lange Sint-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerp

Time: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Short description: IOB Seminar by Yvan Guichaoua (International Politics at the University of East Anglia)

The paper studies the combination of social forces that have contributed to revive northern Côte d'Ivoire's primary and secondary schools in 2003 and in the following years, soon after half of the country fell under the control of a rebellion. After losing territorial control of the North, the South-based governmental camp called all public workers back in the area under its authority, hence depriving the North of many of its intellectual cadres and skilled civil servants. However this institutional vacuum was soon filled, following initiatives 'from below' jointly conducted by parents worried to see their kids idle and northern educated youths who volunteered to teach.

The rebel authorities welcomed and supported these initiatives as significant political dividends could be derived from them at very low cost. Importantly, no attempt was made to transform the pre-war educational system. On the contrary, all the efforts of the parties involved in the revival of northern schools aimed at making their organisation and pedagogical content look as close as possible to schools in the South. It was not the objective of the rebels to transform the institutional system radically.

We interpret this finding as a confirmation of the importance of pre-war institutional settings, notably state penetration, on the ulterior formation of rebel orders. On a microsocial level though, rebel rule did transform the educational sector by offering the opportunity to young educated Northerners, formerly marginalised, to renegotiate the terms of their integration in the public sector as teachers. Rebel rule in Côte d'Ivoire, we conclude, served as a vehicle for upward social mobility for the most active non-combatant sympathisers of the rebellion. The administrative shell remained largely untouched but the administrative personnel changed dramatically.

Yvan Guichaoua
Yvan Guichaoua is a lecturer in International Politics at the University of East Anglia. He is a former teaching fellow at Yale University and research officer at the University of Oxford. He has been studying the dynamics of irregular armed groups in Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and Niger since 2004. Since 2007, Yvan Guichaoua has been studying Tuareg recurring rebellions in Niger and Mali and the rise of Jihadism in the Sahel. His works pays close attention to the complex interactions between violent entrepreneurs and low level combatants shaping the success or failure of irregular armed groups as well as the forms of violence they perpetrate. Yvan Guichaoua is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters and the editor of Understanding Collective Political Violence and co-editor of The Developmental Challenges of Mining and Oil (Palgrave-Macmillan).

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