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Encompassing the State: Sacrifice and Security in the Hunters' Movement of Cote d'Ivoire

From: Africa Today
Volume 50, Number 4, Summer 2004
pp. 3-28 | 10.1353/at.2004.0048


In the absence of adequate police protection in Côte d'Ivoire during the 1990s, hunters began patrolling communities against crime. Worried government ministers portrayed hunters as traditionalists out of place in the modern world and capable of destabilizing it. Officials appealed to distinctions between civil and customary law to repress the hunters' movement in the country's more prosperous areas, but they approved hunters' patrols in peripheral zones, recreating the indirect, customary rule through which French colonizers once regulated hunters. Hunters recognized the contradictions inherent in this compromise and took advantage of them, creating security procedures and networks grounded in their sacrificial hunting ethos and organizational hierarchy. In this way, they encompassed the domain of state security within their hunting roles to stabilize, rather than subvert, the nation-state.

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