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African FuturesEssays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility$
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Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402246

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 October 2019

Forensics of Capital

Forensics of Capital

Chapter:
(p.77) Six Forensics of Capital
Source:
African Futures
Author(s):

Michael Ralph

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.003.0006

It is impossible to understand Senegal’s standing as a diplomatic leader without linking the “blood debt” the government of France still publicly acknowledges to the Tirailleurs Sénégalais who served in the colonial military to the role Senegal has played in pioneering debt management strategies for sub-Saharan Africa. Blood debt has two distinct registers: it first refers to a gift that cannot possibly be repaid—sacrifice, loss—a priceless gift that forges a sense of political belonging. But as blood debt helped Senegal to signal a commitment to democracy in a modern diplomatic arena, it has concrete implications for the idea of “good governance” against which African polities are now routinely measured. This paper draws from original archival research in France and Senegal and ethnographic interviews with US and Senegalese military officials to develop what I call the “forensics of capital,” where people reckon with breaches in implied and expressed civil compacts by translating physical injury into a rationale that establishes liability for the offense.

Keywords:   debt, Senegal, military, diplomacy, democracy

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