Travelling Models in African Conflict Management

Translating Technologies of Social Ordering


Travelling Models offers a theoretical concept for comparative research on conflict management in Africa in processes of globalization: how is change in one place related to developments in other places? Why are certain issues that are important in one place taken up in other places, while others are not? The authors examine how the travel of models enact changes, particularly in African conflict situations, most often in unexpected ways. They look at what happens when a model has been put into practice at a conflict site, and they pay attention to the forms of social (re-)ordering resulting from this process. The authors look, among others, at conflict managing models of power- and revenue sharing, mediation, freedom of expression, disaster management, community involvement and workshopping.

Contributors are: Andrea Behrends, Lydie Cabane, Veronika Fuest, Dejene Gemechu, Mutasim Bashir Ali Hadi, Remadji Hoinathy, Mario Krämer, Sung-Joon Park, Tinashe Pfigu, Richard Rottenburg, Sylvanus Spencer and Kees van der Waal.

The Introduction of this volume is being offered in Open Access

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Andrea Behrends, Dr. phil., is Principal Investigator of a cooperative research project on "Oil and Social Change in Niger and Chad". Her publications focus on political anthropology and Africa.

Sung-Joon Park, is Research Fellow at Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. He has published on mass HIV treatment in Uganda.

Richard Rottenburg holds a Chair in Anthropology at the University of Halle, Germany. His research focuses on the anthropology of law, organisation, science and technology (LOST).
"Understanding the relationship between the local and the global has caught the imagination of so many researchers before. This book is a new addition with a new perspective on this debate. It is based on case studies of conflict management situations from six African countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia and South Africa) that are all characterized as post-conflict communities. Each situation deals with a model that has moved or “traveled” from another local or global context. By trying to understand the dynamic interconnections underlying such intricate relationships, the authors of the book have skilfully used the concept of “translation” to discuss the process by which models travel from one context to another (de-contextualized and re-contextualized). Starting from different disciplinary backgrounds, such as anthropology, sociology, history, and political science, and dealing with diverse topics the book is a vivid demonstration of how both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches can be successfully married. The book is appealing to wider readership both for its theoretical thrust and ethnographic richness." – Musa Adam Abdul-Jalil, University of Khartoum, Sudan
"In spite of numerous pleas for a "symmetrical approach" in field studies, research on Africa has suffered from seemingly unavoidable exoticism, framed into the space and time of "the Other". "Travelling Models" breaks out of this framework decisively, applying an analytical frame well known from organisation studies to scrutinise conflict management in African countries. The results are an important contribution to globalisation studies, revealing both the unyielding traits of global models and the intricate nuances of local translations; unexpected similarities and unanticipated differences. A collection of studies that is a source of new knowledge as well as a template for new kind of global studies." – Barbara Czarniawska, University of Gothenburg, Sweden


Andrea Behrends

List of Contributors

Chapter 1 Travelling Models. Introducing an analytical concept to globalisation studies
Andrea Behrends, Sung-Joon Park and Richard Rottenburg

Part I Expert interventions and local redefinitions

Chapter 2 Workshopping owners. Policies, procedures and pitfalls of peace-building in the non-state sector of Liberia
Veronika Fuest

Chapter 3 Does rationality travel? Translations of a World Bank model for fair oil revenue distribution in Chad
Remadji Hoinathy and Andrea Behrends

Chapter 4 Conflicts as disasters. Translations of conflict in post-apartheid South Africa?
Lydie Cabane

Part II Institutions of political ordering

Chapter 5 Power-sharing in southeast Darfur. Local translations of an international model
Mutasim Bashir Ali Hadi

Chapter 6 Travelling ideologies and the resurgence of traditional institutions in post-1991 Ethiopia
Dejene Gemechu

Chapter 7 Democratisation between violent conflict and the resurgence of chieftaincy. Local transformations of a travelling model in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Mario Krämer

Part III Mobilisation and communities in social ordering

Chapter 8 Singing for change. Music as a means of political expression for young people in Sierra Leone and Liberia
Sylvanus Spencer

Chapter 9 Translating community policing in different social orders in Stellenbosch, South Africa
Tinashe Pfigu and Kees van der Waal


All interested in political anthropology, law, organisation, conflict management and development interventions, globalisation studies, and Science and Technology Studies (STS) in relation to Africa.
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