The Violence of Numbers: Consensus, Competition, and the Negotiation of Disputes in Sierra Leone (La violence du d{é}nombrement: consensus, comp{é}tition et r{é}solution des conflits en Sierra Leone)

  • Ferme M
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Abstract

Representations of the civil war in Sierra Leone have remained within the exceptionalist discourse characteristic of much of the literature on crises in Africa since the 1970s. By contrast, this article argues that in order to understand the logic of wartime violence, one must focus on its ordinary, structural forms, which are at work in the apparently technical procedures of peacetime governance. It examines the "normal" operations of democratic politics (especially elections), dispute resolution, and the state's techniques of enumeration and classification (the census, taxation, development planning). In all cases, the search for clear outcomes--such as the creation of winners and losers in elections and court cases--alternates with ambiguous strategies that undercut the presumption of finality in such processes. These strategies are deployed by the state's subjects, in efforts to construct alternative subjectivities that escape the exceptionalist logic of modern forms of power. /// Les analyses relatives {à} la guerre civile sierra-l{é}onaise ont surtout mis l'accent sur la vertu d'exception de ce conflit {à} l'instar de la plupart de la litt{é}rature consacr{é}e aux crises qui affectent l'Afrique depuis les ann{é}es 1970. {À} l'inverse, cet article tente de montrer que pour saisir la logique de la violence guerri{è}re, on doit concentrer l'attention sur ses formes structurales, lesquelles sont {é}galement {à} l'oeuvre dans les proc{é}dures techniques normales de la gestion des affaires publiques en temps de paix. L'auteur d{é}crit ainsi les op{é}rations "normales" de la vie politique d{é}mocratique, en particulier les {é}lections, la r{é}solution des conflits ainsi que les techniques {é}tatiques de d{é}nombrement et de classement (recensement, fiscalit{é}, d{é}veloppement). Dans tous ces cas, la recherche de r{é}sultats tranch{é}s (gagnants et perdants des {é}lections ou des proc{è}s) contraste avec les strat{é}gies ambigu{ë}s qui contrarient les fins vis{é}es par ces processus. Ces strat{é}gies sont d{é}velopp{é}es par les citoyens de fa{ç}on {à} construire des niches subjectives qui {é}chappent {à} la logique d'exception qui caract{é}rise les formes modernes de pouvoir.

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Authors

  • Mariane Ferme

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