CFP: Conflict, (Counter-) Terrorism and Intervention in the Sahara-Sahel

26 February 2012

Conflict, (Counter-) Terrorism and Intervention in the Sahara-Sahel
Call for Papers
Saharan Studies Association sponsored panel
African Studies Association annual meeting
Philadelphia, PA
November 29-December 1, 2012

Organized by
Alexander Zhukov, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Jacob Mundy, Colgate University

The dramatic yet still evolving transformations in Mediterranean North Africa, most importantly in Libya, have been extensively analyzed in the context of Middle East security. Yet the ramifications of the ‘Arab Spring’ on issues of conflict and intervention in the Sahara-Sahel region have yet to be fully explored. Along with the Horn of Africa, the great expanse between Mauritania and Sudan has arguably been one of the most conflict-ridden areas in Africa. It is also home to some of the world’s largest reserves of oil and natural gas; the Sahara literally helps power world economic growth and production. For decades, this zone has been caught in a web of intra- and inter-state conflicts further complicated by external interventions performed by Western powers. The Sahara-Sahel is home to various insurgent movements, including the long-living Polisario Front in Western Sahara, the trans-national Tuareg insurgencies, the highly unstable rebel factions in western Sudan’s Darfur region, and now the Boko Haram movement in northern Nigeria. The internal dynamics of these and other conflicts in the region have been exacerbated by a plethora of old and new rivalries between regional and extra-regional actors, which often results in the widespread phenomenon of proxy warfare. A major battlefield for the US-led global war on terrorism, the rise of a regional branch of Al-Qaida has tracked alongside the dramatic proliferation of informal trade networks based on the smuggling of goods and humans. The proposed panel aims to analyze the interaction of these internal and external factors, particularly their impacts on contemporary politico-military conflicts in the Sahara-Sahel. It will address a broad spectrum of related issues, from the determinants of regional cooperation, conflict and foreign intervention to the important consequences of social, economic and political turbulence, including conflict-driven migration, terrorism and trafficking.

With this background in mind, we are soliciting papers that address one or more of the following questions:

• Generally speaking, what have been or will be the major effects of the ‘Arab Spring’ on the governments and polities of the Sahara-Sahel? Which of the scenarios of the ‘Arab Spring’, if any, is more likely to take place in the ‘sub-Saharan’ states of the Sahel? Why?

• More specifically, how will the downfall of the Gaddafi regime affect regional conflict scenarios in the Sahara-Sahel, particularly concerning Tuareg politics in Mali, Niger, Algeria and, eventually, Libya itself?

• What can explain the emergence of armed conflict in the central Sahara and Northern Nigeria. Is it an ‘accidental guerrilla’ effect of Al-Qaida led radicalization or is the predicable consequence of the counterterrorism policies of regional hegemons and extra-regional powers, most importantly the Trans-Saharan Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP) of the United States?

• What is the relationship between, on the one hand, the chronic conditions of human insecurity along the Sahelian belt and, on the other hand, the proliferation of formal, informal and illicit trade networks, particularly the growing influx of the South American drug trade?

• What impacts, if any, has the new protests and insurgencies in North Africa had on the political scene in the ‘sub-Saharan’ states of the Sahel? Has there been an impact on existing international border and water disputes in the Sahara-Sahel region and what are scenarios for the future?

• How has the fraught secession of South Sudan influenced other struggles for autonomy and self-determination in the Sahara-Sahel region, from Western Sahara to Nigeria, from the Tuareg to other regions of Sudan?

• How has the deterioration of security in the Sahara-Sahel affected the study of the region, whether in the humanistic, social or natural sciences?

• What is the security impact of the new scramble for Africa initiated by foreign capital and emerging powers — e.g., China, India, ‘BRICs’ — over Africa’s natural resources in the Sahara-Sahel?

Please submit (1) a paper title, (2) an abstract of no more than 250 words, and (3) a brief biographical statements including important contact information by March 10, 2012, to both and

Notifications of acceptance or rejection will be emailed no later than March 12. Selected participants will need to register for the ASA 2012 conference before the March 15 deadline.

At this time, the Saharan Studies Association is not able to offer subventions to cover travel, accommodations and other conference costs. Selected participants are expected to make their own travel arrangements and to cover their own costs. Go to for more information on how to register for the ASA conference.

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One Response to “CFP: Conflict, (Counter-) Terrorism and Intervention in the Sahara-Sahel”

  1. Africa News Roundup: Sudan-South Sudan Tensions, Malian Refugees, Senegalese Opposition Coalition, and More | Sahel Blog Says:

    [...] Sahara Studies Association is calling for papers on the theme of “Conflict, (Counter-Terrorism and Intervention in the [...]