University of Cambridge > > Centre of African Studies Occasional Talks > The rifle, the quill, and the rosary: competing sources of political legitimacy in Mali'

The rifle, the quill, and the rosary: competing sources of political legitimacy in Mali'

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he paper examines competing sources of political legitimacy in contemporary Mali through a two-pronged analysis. It reconstructs regionally diverse responses to the slogan of ‘national reconciliation’ articulated by the Malian after the 2012 coup d’État, in response to Tuareg separatist and Islamist attempts to slice off the country’s northern territories. Tracing the genealogy of the slogan back to the independence jubilee celebrations in late 2011, the paper demonstrates how and why the meanings of “reconciliation” resonate differently with different segments of the Malian national “community”. The paper pays particular attention to the key role of the national army in official invocations of national unity and in their contested reception, arguing that the military, as an institution and as an actual source of political legitimacy, competes with “intellectual power” as the default mode of political legitimacy. In a second step, the paper reconstructs how over the past decades, an idiom of Islamic moral renewal has become an alternative source of political legitimacy. The paper concludes with a discussion of the “fault lines of the nation” revealed in the regionally diverse engagements with the three competing sources of legitimacy.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Occasional Talks series.

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