Unequal Society and Negotiated State: Post-War Plural Policing in Abidjan

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Maxime RICARD, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
After 20 years of neither war nor peace, Ivory Coast’s economic boom in the « post-conflict » era is hailed as a peacebuilding success story, as the country’s GDP doubled since 2011. However, almost half of Ivoirians survive with less than $2 per day. Abidjan symbolises this contrast of a non-inclusive economic development, while the fragmented security sector inherited from decades of crises is a routine concern.

This paper is part of an on-going 6-month ethnographic study of shifting interrelations among segments of actors which police Abidjan: public police, mixed elite police/army units, international/national private security firms, vigilante groups, traditional hunters. Without assuming pre-defined categories or relationships of power between actors, this study aims at understanding the hegemonic quest of the state for the monopoly of violence in light of the negotiation for power of plural policing actors. To undertake this, we chose to compare through thick-descriptions place-specific relations of power in 3 economically and socially contrasting communes of Abidjan, through interviews and observations with policing actors and citizens of targeted communes.

Thus, this paper seeks to explain for whom, for what, and how policing is delivered, and how it intersects with political economy and political domination. This is a contribution to studies of what is government in contemporary Africa in a context of an increasing “securitization” of “development” in urban settings, at the intersection of different traditions in social sciences. This paper will be presented as the field research is still on-going, therefore presenting preliminary results of the study.