Violent Conflicts in Africa: Towards a Holistic Understanding

Mark Chingono


Violent conflicts in Africa have claimed millions of lives, displaced many more and mortgaged the continent’s development. Yet, the study of their causes, dynamics and consequences is far from holistic and unified, but is instead fragmented, contested and divided along disciplines. Part of the problem is that, such complex conflicts are not amenable to mono-causal analysis and rigid theorization, but instead can only be better understood through multidisciplinary analyses of contested historical processes in which local and global forces interact to produce contingent, contradictory and ambiguous trajectories of violent change. This paper attempts to build a more holistic understanding of violent conflicts in Africa that transcends the limits of mono-causal and deterministic models of violence. Critically synthesizing competing perspectives, it highlights some of the many inextricably interlinked local and global causes and escalation factors of violence in Africa.

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