Ultraviolent conflicts

Between economic austerity and riot stories, my reading is out of sync with the headlines. I’ve been reading more about African conflicts, especially very recent and ongoing ones. Specifically:

-Allen and Vlassenroot’s book on the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.

-Jason Stearns’s book on the Congo war, “Dancing in the Glory of Monsters”.

-My friend Lansana Gberie’s “A Dirty War in West Africa” on Sierra Leone, and a book he critiques, Paul Richards’s “Fighting for the Rainforest”.

-Assis Malaquias’s “Rebels and Robbers” on Angola’s civil war.


Between economic austerity and riot stories, my reading is out of sync with the headlines. I’ve been reading more about African conflicts, especially very recent and ongoing ones. Specifically:

-Allen and Vlassenroot’s book on the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.

-Jason Stearns’s book on the Congo war, “Dancing in the Glory of Monsters”.

-My friend Lansana Gberie’s “A Dirty War in West Africa” on Sierra Leone, and a book he critiques, Paul Richards’s “Fighting for the Rainforest”.

-Assis Malaquias’s “Rebels and Robbers” on Angola’s civil war.

I’m going to pick up Stephen Ellis’s “The Mask of Anarchy” about Liberia and I’m looking for something good on Somalia.

I am trying to see what the insurgencies and states and strategies they use have in common across conflicts. It seems to me there’s quite a bit, and I find myself wondering why. Is it that some of these ultraviolent strategies of mutilation and mass rape are passed on like technologies from one group to another, or do they evolve in different places because of similar circumstances? Lansana Gberie points out that Colombia’s civil war has featured some of these ultraviolent strategies, mostly used by the paramilitaries.

Author: Justin Podur

Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.