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Power, contested institutions and land: repoliticising analysis of natural resources and conflict in Darfur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalJournal of Eastern African Studies
Early online date25 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

King's Authors


The fact that attributing the conflict in Darfur to environmental factors masks human agency and therefore accountability for the violence is well recognised. However, this point is often made with reference to government culpability for the violence in terms that reduce the Darfur conflict to one of political and economic marginalisation alone. The academic discourse has thereby created a misleading dichotomy between a ‘depoliticised’ local conflict and a ‘political’ conflict at the national level. This article bridges that polarised debate by investigating the contested institutions across Darfur that are relevant to conflicts within Darfur, to conflict with Khartoum and to regional conflicts notably involving Libya and Chad. Three case studies of conflict in Darfur are investigated with a focus on the complex interplay between solidarities of livelihood (which downplay ethnic divisions) and solidarities of ethnicity (which feature highly in conflict). Regional and national conflicts interact with conflict within Darfur through manipulation of contested institutions, among other means. The paper investigates how divergent framings of natural resources and conflict have been instrumentalised within the global discourse on Darfur, to the detriment of both the search for peace in Darfur and a theoretical understanding of the links between natural resources and conflict.

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