Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Michel Djotodia: Where He Comes From, Where He -- and CAR -- Might be Going

I have a piece up at African Arguments reflecting on Michel Djotodia's biography and what it might mean for politics in the CAR in the years to come.

It's tempting to see Djotodia's coup as history repeating itself. And many of the coup dynamics this time around are indeed similar to those in 2003. But one of the responsibilities of anthropology is to remind and educate people about the fact that social life is always full of endless possibilities, that deterministic accounts miss more contingent reasons for why things are the way they are. CAR's recent history is dispiriting, and the damages of the coup (looting not just for goods but also for looting's sake, violence, not to mention the psychic toll of the upheaval) are profound. However, events of recent months also bring with them some new opportunities, such as the (imminent) return to Bangui of some of the technocrats who fled while PatassĂ© and BozizĂ© were in power.