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Insecurities in the Lake Chad basin

Les insécurités dans le bassin du lac Tchad

17th Mega-Chad colloquium

XVIIe colloque du réseau Méga-Tchad

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Published on Thursday, October 20, 2016


Les insécurités, le thème choisi pour le XVIIe colloque du réseau Méga-Tchad, apparaît, plus que jamais, d’une actualité que l’on ne peut éluder. Au-delà d’alimenter les bruits de gazette, les insécurités sont un élément structurant des organisations sociales, facteurs de blocages et moteurs de changements des hommes, de leurs cultures, de leurs organisations et de leurs productions. Les tragiques événements que traverse la région du lac Tchad rappellent la capacité destructrice des violences, mais ne doivent pas faire oublier les adaptations, les résiliences, voire les innovations déployées pour y faire face, les contourner et les dépasser.



Ever since the crisis in Darfur, the Boko Haram insurrection and the conflagration in the Central African Republic, the Lake Chad basin has been a focus of media and government attention. Insecurities, the theme chosen for this 17th Mega-Chad colloquium, has become a topic that can no longer be avoided. Beyond media attention, insecurities play a major part in structuring social organizations. They either block or force change at the level of individuals, their cultures, their organizations and their productions. The tragic events that have played out  in the region demonstrate the destructive potential of violence, and yet we should not forget that these events also stimulate adaptations, resilience and resistance that can lead to innovations and new ways of coping with such situations, and to new means of facing, circumventing or overcoming them.

In a geographic area characterized by chronic insecurity over the long term, weapons and the arts of war, political arenas, means of communication and ways of solving conflicts have changed over time. Outbreaks of insecurity in the present are deeply rooted in the past. The history of the Lake Chad basin is marked by tremendous violence, an intense use of force pervading all periods of history, from the early times of precolonial kingdoms and widespread slavery, through colonization and world wars, and on to later independent states and rebellions against them. Even in relatively quiet periods, endemic insecurity never ended but took various forms: ambushes in rural areas carried out by bands of pillagers (rustlers and highwaymen), urban crime, and the crimes of authoritarianism, mediated by uniformed “forces of order” that play a dual role as guarantors of stability and generators of political instability. 

Insecurities transform social organizations by imposing themselves on everyday life. Faced with the proliferation of violence, social groups modify their forms of self-government and production, of dwelling and traveling, of exchange and communication. Beyond actual acts of violence, insecurities (in the form of anxieties provoked by the likelihood of danger) contribute to the sum of risks confronting people in their daily lives, and notably unpredictabilities in production, uncertainties regarding property, local conflicts and more proximate violence (within the family, at school, gender conflicts, law and order, etc.). Research is needed on the links between these insecurities that fuse vulnerabilities and hazards of different types and intensities, scales and durations.

Insecurities also lead to the reconstitution of political structures. Understanding of the functioning of states remains central to the study of armed conflicts, which tending to begin as internal conflicts often take on a regional dimension, challenging the internal workings and external politics of centralized political organizations. The significance of rhetorics and extremist actions make religion the second key factor in present and past insecurities. The struggle for the control of resources by networks, bands, regional or ethnic leaders, and central authorities also sheds light on social frameworks and their transformations. The fabric of international institutions and of local political arenas offers further possibilities for research on insecurities. 

This international and pluridisciplinary colloquium welcomes contributions on insecurities within the Lake Chad basin (Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and bordering regions of Sudan, Libya and Algeria), on their interconnections, and also on comparisons with neighboring areas (e.g., the African Great Lakes, Congo basin). The impacts of these conflicts and the ways they are perceived and represented elsewhere in the wider world are also suitable topics.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of themes that may provide suggestions for contributions:

Language and insecurities

  • techniques of presentation, discursive and visual, of insecurities (vocabulary, codes, translations, contextualization)
  • the importance of rumors (sources, instrumentalisation, effects on feelings of insecurity)
  • means of communication and their control as regards insecurities (information technologies, messengers, surveillance and diffusion of telecommunications)
  • the censorship of violence or, alternatively, its rendering as spectacle
  • the international exchange of words, images and ideas between the Lake Chad basin and the rest of the world (reappropriation of insecurities from elsewhere and representation of outside wars within local armed groups, media, diplomatic spheres and the arts)
  • the rhetorics of religious extremism

Working on or inside insecurities

  • the archaeology of insecurities
  • old and new sources of evidence on violence
  • qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry relating to insecurities
  • the problem of accessing insecurity zones (limitation of research areas, overcoming difficulties, etc.)
  • institutional representations of risks relating to research

Time and insecurities

  • archaeological evidence of violence in the past
  • slavery
  • precolonial political structures and insecurities
  • the colonial period and violence (conquest, resistance movements, etc.)
  • persistent features and ruptures in the art of war
  • raids (razzias) and jihads
  • the intergenerational transfer of experience relating to insecurities (combatants, civil victims)
  • life histories of (ex)warriors and rebels (their role and status within armies, within rebellions, and the relationship between them)
  • the religious factor in insecurities, past and present
  • the ‘neither war nor peace’ situation (how to govern in times of war and of peace, and of diffuse insecurity)

Space and insecurities

  • dwelling and insecurities (refugee housing, camps, garrisons, etc.)
  • migration and circulation in the context of insecurities (forced migration, impact of violence on exchanges, means of transport used for violence)
  • demographic effects of violence (on population, on urbanisation, etc.)
  • environment and insecurities (environmental refugees, the role of protected areas in conflicts)
  • resources and insecurities (resources as the stakes of violences, impacts of violences on systems of production systems, development of a survival economy, types of trafficking)
  • the interstatal extension of conflicts (transnational circulation of weapons, ideologies and combatants across borders)
  • the internationalisation of conflicts (interafrican forces, role of former colonial powers)

Insecurities in daily life

  • routine insecurities, seasonal, endemic (in agriculture, food, health, etc.)
  • insecurities relating to real estate and other property
  • local conflicts (planning, userights, etc.)
  • the roots and local dynamics of regional, national and international conflicts
  • government in situations of insecurity (power structures, political arenas, etc.)
  • gender and insecurities
  • role of the weapons market in local violence
  • local political institutions (chieftaincies, groups, municipalities, etc.) confronted with insecurities

Fighting insecurities

  • low level solutions to the ending of conflicts (alliances, pacts, tributes, exchanges)
  • the use of violence in the settlement of conflicts (imprisonment, ordeals, insurrections)
  • the efficiency and impact of international programmes on emergence from crisis (military operations, humanitarian help, economic stimulus, disarmament, development aid)
  • geopolitical dimensions of international aid spaces (refugee camps, sites for displaced peoples, etc.)
  • international aid and the daily practice of institutions (NGOs, intergovernmental organisations, states, local political arenas, etc.)

Organising committee

  • Emmanuel Chauvin, PRODIG
  • Olivier Langlois, CNRS, CEPAM
  • Christian Seignobos, IRD
  • Catherine Baroin, CNRS, ArScAn

Scientific committee

  • Guy-Florent Ankogui M’Poko, Univ. de Bangui, LACCEG
  • Mirjam de Bruijn, Univ. Leiden, ASCL
  • Marielle Debos, Univ. Paris Ouest Nanterre, ISP
  • Zakinet Dangbet, Univ. de N’Djaména
  • Saibou Issa, Univ. de Maroua, ETS
  • Benoît Lallau, Univ.Lille 1, Clersé
  • Géraud Magrin, Univ. Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, PRODIG
  • Mark Moritz, The Ohio State University
  • Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos, IRD, CEPED
  • Christine Raimond, CNRS, PRODIG

Submission guidelines

Proposals should be sent to:  colloque.megatchad.insecurites@gmail.com

Deadline: 20 december 2016.

Please indicate your name, e-mail, status, university or other institution, phone number and postal address, title of paper, abstract (maximum 400 words) and keywords.

Useful information

Registration costs will be moderate. Financial help may be considered for a few participants.


  • Nice, France (06)


  • Tuesday, December 20, 2016


  • insécurité, violence, conflit, guerre, paix


  • Emmanuel Chauvin
    courriel : emmanuel [dot] chauvin [at] univ-tlse2 [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Emmanuel Chauvin
    courriel : emmanuel [dot] chauvin [at] univ-tlse2 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Insecurities in the Lake Chad basin », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, October 20, 2016, https://calenda.org/380331

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