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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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Brokering Revolution: Imagining Future War on the West African Borderlands

Brokering Revolution: Imagining Future War on the West African Borderlands

Chapter:
(p.95) Seven Brokering Revolution: Imagining Future War on the West African Borderlands
Source:
African Futures
Author(s):

Danny Hoffman

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.003.0007

A month after Umar Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up a passenger plane on Christmas Day 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a warning to African leaders. Abdulmutallab, Clinton said, represented one possible future for African youth: violent religious “radicalization.” Terrorist networks, she said, would exploit young Africans like Abdulmutallab, disillusioned by “unbelievable” corruption and “disturbed by his father’s wealth.” Drawing on fieldwork with ex-combatants on the mines of the Sierra Leone border, I suggest a more likely, though equally radical, future. For Clinton, as for many others, violent “radicalization” is an alternative to the logic of today’s global economy. Marginal young men can be deployed by the promise of a future in which value is calculated outside the cash nexus. Young veterans of the Mano River War suggest otherwise. They are indeed willing to deploy their violence in the service of others. But not to inaugurate a post-monetized future. Their “radicalism” is the opposite: they see their capacity for violence solely in terms of its market value. The future they hope to inaugurate can only be imagined within the radical frame of contemporary capital.

Keywords:   Sierra Leone, violence, war, political economy, youth

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