Identity Politics and the Sustenance of Africa's Predatory States

Authors: Gashawbeza Bekele*, Tennesee State University
Topics: Africa, Political Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Identity Politics, Ethnic politics, Africa
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom A, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


African societies, like those of any other regions in the world, organize themselves politically by social dimensions such as ethnicity, language, religion, and gender. Hence, a good understanding of the ways in which people in Africa mobilize and act collectively in political circles are central to our understanding of how predatory states in Africa gain, consolidate, and sustain power. This research addresses the central question of how identity politics in general and ethnic identities in particular are defined, pursued, and manipulated for political gains by Africa’s predatory states. By drawing examples from several African predatory states and examining state-society relations in Africa from a historical perspective, it elucidates the ways in which identity politics has been used as a tool to mobilize groups of people, and thereby consolidate and sustain political power. Even though ethnic identity remains an important tool to sustain power by Africa’s predatory states, I argue that its significance may become very limited, as individuals possess multiple identities in an era of globalization and as liberal democracy takes root in Africa.

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