Giulia Piccolino and Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs are convening the ‘Politics After War: Armed actors in post-conflict societies’ panel at the 8th European Conference on African Studies (Edinburgh, 12-14 June 2019). The panel looks at the role of former armed groups in post-conflict societies in Africa, including both armed actors who have taken power and become state rulers and armed actors that continue to play a role as opposition parties or organized interest groups.
After the end of armed conflicts, formerly armed actors often continue to play an important role in post-war politics. While transforming warring actors to politicians can sometimes play a vital role for the gradual transformation from war dynamics to peaceful politics, it may also entrench militant norms, violent behaviour and war-time rethorics. This panel encourages contributions that explore the transformation of armed actors and its impact on political governance. We encourage both the submission of papers dealing with former insurgents in power and those addressing issues pertaining to formerly armed groups or individuals who establish themselves as opposition parties or run as political candidates in post-war elections. Since decolonization, many former insurgent groups have attained power in Africa. While the first generation of liberation movements initially enjoyed broad popular support, more recent rebellions have been strongly identified with a particular ethnic or socio-political constituency, with an important share of the population questioning their legitimacy. We also welcome papers that explore the dynamics of reintegration and (re)mobilization of armed actors in post conflict societies or the role of former combatants as interest groups or veteran organisations. Although the literature often identify them as potentially disruptive actors, many have remobilized peacefully to ask for reintegration benefits or protest against government’s failures. In spite of growing research on these topics in recent years, we still lack a an understanding of the effects of rebel-to-party transformations on the dynamics of post-war governance.