Dissertation Abstracts

Village communities and the management of conflicts in the department of Tenkodogo (Boulgou district, Burkina Faso)

Author: Yacouba Cissao, cissaoyacouba@yahoo.fr
Department: Department of Sociology
University: Université Ouaga 1 Pr Joseph Ki-Zerbo , Burkina Faso
Supervisor: Alkassoum Maiga
Year of completion: 2017
Language of dissertation: French

Keywords: Conflict management , Village communities , State , Legitimacy
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Institutional Ethnography , Law


My doctoral dissertation is dealing with the relationship between villagers and the state through its representatives in the field of local conflicts management. The study is a part of a research project untitled ''Fragile futures: rural lives in times of conflicts" that involved researchers from the Department of Anthropology of the University of Copenhagen (Danemark) and researchers from the Department of Sociology of Université Ouaga 1 Pr Joseph Ki-Zerbo (Burkina Faso) One of my research objectives was to know whether the villagers trust the local representatives of the state as far as their conflicts solving is concerned. An other objective of my sutdy was to find out for which kind of conflicts villagers resort or not to the local representatives of the state. I conducted an ethnographical research during eight months in three villages in the department of Tenkodogo at the eastern part of Burkina Faso between december 2014 and december 2015. Tenkodogo is the capital of the department where I did on the one hand some archive research and observations in the justice court and the prefecture and on the other hand some indepth interviews with the local representatives of the state. Many kind of conflicts have been observed in the recent past and during the fieldwork in the research area. The main ones were conflicts linked to the traditional chiefdom and land conflicts that were linked to the first ones as these conflicts are opposing two ethnic groups (Bissa and Mossi). All the three villages in my research area were politically and socially divised in two parts due to the fact there are two traditional chiefs representing each group within each village. The native Bissa who are in the majority in the villages decided to withdraw the lands their ancestors have loaned or given to the ''strangers'' Mossi in the past. Hence the land conflicts that were a form that took the conflicts linked to the traditional chiefdom. As the protagonist don't belong to the same ethnic group it was difficult to have these conflicts settled by the local authorities in the village. The Mossi people that used to resort to the justice court have had their rights over the lands recognized by the justice court as they have cultivated these lands for a long time. The native Bissa used to contest the justice decisions arguing that state laws are not legitimate to govern the management of lands that have been loaned or given according to customary law. These land conflicts therefore do not terminate and may become violent at any moment. Regarding the conflicts linked to the traditional chiefdom that have accentuated land conflicts the representatives of the state argued that it is not the role of the state to get involved in the custom affairs. The state is yet seen by all the stakeholders in the villages as the only authority that can settle these conflicts by making some strong decisions

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