Hunting the Ethical State: The Benkadi Movement of Cote d'Ivoire (Hardback)
  • Hunting the Ethical State: The Benkadi Movement of Cote d'Ivoire (Hardback)
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Hunting the Ethical State: The Benkadi Movement of Cote d'Ivoire (Hardback)

(author)
£70.50
Hardback 288 Pages / Published: 05/07/2011
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In the 1990s a nationwide crime wave overtook Cote d'Ivoire. The Ivoirian police failed to control the situation, so a group of poor, politically marginalized, and mostly Muslim men took on the role of the people's protectors as part of a movement they called Benkadi. These men were dozos - hunters skilled in ritual sacrifice - and they applied their hunting and occult expertise, along with the ethical principles implicit in both forms of knowledge, to the tracking and capturing of thieves. Meanwhile, as Benkadi emerged, so too did the ethnic, regional, and religious divisions that would culminate in Cote d'Ivoire's 2002-07 rebellion. "Hunting the Ethical State" reveals how dozos worked beyond these divisions to derive their new roles as enforcers of security from their ritual hunting ethos. Much as they used sorcery to shape-shift and outwit game, they now transformed into unofficial police, and their ritual networks became police bureaucracies. Though these Muslim and northern-descended men would later resist the state, Joseph Hellweg demonstrates how they briefly succeeded at making a place for themselves within it. Ultimately, Hellweg interprets Benkadi as a flawed but ingenious and thoroughly modern attempt by non-state actors to reform an African state.

Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226326535
Number of pages: 288
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Amidst troubled times for West African states, understanding how ordinary citizens struggle for meaningful, effective governance and security is more important than ever. In this fine book, Hellweg offers us a richly textured account of one such struggle orchestrated by an Ivorian hunters' movement that connects the spiritual and the mundane, personal and institutional power, and the 'traditional' and the thoroughly modern in highly creative ways. Movements like Benkadi--beyond their success or otherwise in securing particular political outcomes--reveal the vitality of political cultures and governance processes in which non-state actors are central. A powerful antidote to top-down, state-centric accounts, this book should be read by anyone interested in the real workings of politics and society in West Africa today."

--Melissa Leach, University of Sussex
"The "dozo" hunting societies of northern Cote d'Ivoire have frequently been a source of double tension: between Islam and indigenous culture within their home area and between that entire region and the economically dominant Christian south. In a rich blend of ethnography, performance analysis, and political history, Joseph Hellweg both illuminates these antagonisms and also indicates how, in significant moments of transcendence, the hunters provide a local model for national reconciliation."

--Ralph Austen, University of Chicago
Amidst troubled times for West African states, understanding how ordinary citizens struggle for meaningful, effective governance and security is more important than ever. In this fine book, Hellweg offers us a richly textured account of one such struggle orchestrated by an Ivorian hunters movement that connects the spiritual and the mundane, personal and institutional power, and the traditional and the thoroughly modern in highly creative ways. Movements like Benkadi beyond their success or otherwise in securing particular political outcomes reveal the vitality of political cultures and governance processes in which non-state actors are central. A powerful antidote to top-down, state-centric accounts, this book should be read by anyone interested in the real workings of politics and society in West Africa today.
--Melissa Leach, University of Sussex"
The "dozo" hunting societies of northern Cote d Ivoire have frequently been a source of double tension: between Islam and indigenous culture within their home area and between that entire region and the economically dominant Christian south. In a rich blend of ethnography, performance analysis, and political history, Joseph Hellweg both illuminates these antagonisms and also indicates how, in significant moments of transcendence, the hunters provide a local model for national reconciliation.
--Ralph Austen, University of Chicago"

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