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Blinded by science: the problems of sorting out identity in Africa – By Keith Somerville | African Arguments

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Blinded by science: the problems of sorting out identity in Africa – By Keith Somerville | African Arguments.

The concept of autochthony – that one is entitled to ‘belong’ because of ancestral rights or “this is ours because we were here first” (p. 1) – is in many ways an attractive one when looking at political, economic and military conflict in Africa.  Land is and always has been a key factor on a continent where agriculture is still at the heart of most economies and non-urban communities.  Bøås and Dunn have chosen it as their focus for looking at issues of identity in Africa and use it to examine conflicts in Liberia, Kenya, the DRC and Ivory Coast.  In so doing they appear to consciously reject economic factors other than land in explaining motives for competition and violence and also suggest autochthony is more appealing and applicable than ethnicity because it implies a sense of belonging and of being somewhere first…

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