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The Roy A. Rappaport Lectures: A Socialist Peace? Explaining the Absence of War in an African Country

"The Afterlife of a Socialist Habitus" by Mike McGovern
Friday, March 31, 2017
3:00-5:00 PM
Pendleton Room Michigan Union Map
A Socialist Peace? Explaining the Absence of War in an African Country

This series of four lectures presents different parts of a book-length analysis of the politics, history and culture of the West African territory that came to be known as the Republic of Guinea. The book grew out of the question many Guineans and West African neighbors of Guinea have asked about why all six of Guinea's neighbors have experienced civil conflict while Guinea has not. This, despite the fact that many people feel that Guinea had more reasons than its neighbors why it "should have" experienced war or separatist insurgency. Guinea's 26-year experience of socialist rule may provide part of the answer. While the socialist government was intrusive and highly coercive, it also forged a sense of national identity and unity qualitatively different from anything existing in neighboring non-socialist countries. The study thus attempts to unravel the paradox of a peace that issues from a state's violence against its own citizens; a socialist habitus that provides the antidote to political schisms the state itself exacerbated.

4. The Afterlife of a Socialist Habitus

If it is true that a lengthy period of socialist nation-building can inoculate a country against the demonstrated social, economic, and political risks that have led elsewhere to civil war, we should still want to know how long such an effect might last. Does the socialist peace evaporate at the same time that the socialist government disappears? Does it last indefinitely? If the answer is somewhere between these two extremes, what factors affect the rate at which such an effect dissipates? This lecture explores three moments in the career of Guinea's socialist peace to show how people simultaneously argued with and against the divisive legacy of socialism. It ends with a discussion of nostalgia, socialist and otherwise, and the extent to which the Guinean experience might be indicative of dynamics that exist elsewhere.
Building: Michigan Union
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: AEM Featured, Anthropology, Lecture
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Anthropology