Menu Expand
State of Rebellion

State of Rebellion

Louisa Lombard



Shortlisted for the Fage and Oliver Prize 2018

In 2013, the Central African Republic was engulfed by violence. In the face of the rapid spread of the conflict, journalists, politicians, and academics alike have struggled to account for its origins.

In this first comprehensive account of the country’s recent upheaval, Louisa Lombard shows the limits of the superficial explanations offered thus far – that the violence has been due to a religious divide, or politicians’ manipulations, or profiteering. Instead, she shows that conflict has long been useful to Central African politics, a tendency that has been exacerbated by the international community’s method of engagement with so-called fragile states. Furthermore, changing this state of affairs will require rethinking the relationships of all those present – rebel groups and politicians, as well as international interveners and diplomats.

An urgent insight into this little-understood country and the problems with peacebuilding more broadly.

Louisa Lombard is an assistant professor of anthropology at Yale University. Previously she held a Ciriacy-Wantrup postdoctoral fellowship in natural resource economics at the University of California at Berkeley. She has published widely on politics and conflict in Central Africa. In addition to her academic research, she has worked in the Central African Republic as a field consultant to several international organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Small Arms Survey, Refugees International, and the World Bank. Her previous books include Making Sense of the Central African Republic, co-edited with Tatiana Carayannis (Zed Books, 2015).

Shortlisted for the Fage and Oliver Prize 2018

‘Brilliant ... Provides a magisterial reading of the role of violence in the making of the CAR. Authoritative, nuanced, and empirically rich, Lombard offers a new and compelling lens through which so-called state failure and post-conflict transitions can be understood.’
Michael Watts, University of California, Berkeley (Emeritus)

‘This valuable, indeed important, study helps us make sense of a little-known but strategically important African country. Those who wish to know Africa today need to know this book.’
Paul Richards, author of No Peace, No War: An Anthropology of Contemporary Armed Conflicts

‘If you want to understand why the CAR seems a perpetual work in regress, then Louisa Lombard’s book is a must read. Her new perspectives illuminate a neglected recess of globalization.’
Stephen W. Smith, Duke University

‘In this stimulating and provocative book, Louisa Lombard proposes a new approach to peace-keeping, peace enforcement and humanitarian action that rests upon a politics of redistribution and acknowledgement of the social dignity of fighters lacking a state.’
Jean-François Bayart, Graduate Institute Geneva

‘With a stunning combination of conceptual clarity and vivid ethnography, Louisa Lombard’s book challenges conventional wisdom on the roots of violence in the CAR. A must-read for anyone wanting to engage with current debates on peace-building and state-building initiatives.’
Marielle Debos, author of Living by the Gun in Chad

'A must-read for comparativists and IR scholars interested in peacebuilding, the state, and African politics, as well as for policy makers involved with these issues in the CAR and beyond.'
African Affairs

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front Cover Front Cover
About the Author iv
Title Page v
Copyright vi
Contents vii
Acknowledgements ix
Abbreviations and Acronyms xiii
Map of the Central African Republic xvi
Introduction 1
1. Conflict and the State in the Peace-Kept World 27
Welcome to Car 27
Still Fighting for the Rainforest? 32
Rituals, Social Emotion, and Anomie 50
Conclusion 56
2. The Nativeness of ‘Foreign’ Violence 59
Introduction 59
Adventurist Politics 63
Violence and the Problem of Oversight 71
3. Mobility as Power 85
Introduction 85
Mobility as Power and Cross-Cutting Tie 87
The Strength of State Desires 101
Conclusion 110
4. Long and Short Histories of Rebellion 113
Introduction 113
Insurgency and Entitlement in Conceptions of the State 115
The Region, the Good Intentions Crowd, and the Problem of the State 124
Rebellion Anew 129
5. DDR and the Frustration of Desires for Entitlement 141
Introduction 141
DDR Rationales 147
PRAC (2004–2007) 152
Steering Committee (2009–2012) 160
Waiting: Promises and Threats 169
6. War as the Violence of the Pack 177
Introduction 177
Making Sense of Violence at the Time and After the Fact 183
Foreign Bodies as Dangerous and Illegitimate 186
Justice, Punishment, and the Invisible World 192
Cannibalism 199
Soldiers Who Lynch 205
Conclusion 210
7. World Champion of Peacekeeping 213
Introduction 213
Uncertainty 215
Social Cohesion and Suspicion 219
On Dislike: An Interlude 223
Divining the Truth 226
Who Is In Charge? 237
Conclusion 243
Saving the State 247
In Closing 252
Notes 255
References 265
Index 277