Time as a factor in understanding the violence of war: The example of Africa
31-12-2003 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 852, by Daniel Palmieri
Contemporary conflicts in Africa are analysed in this article from a temporal point of view. Such a perspective serves to provide elements that help explain the length of these conflicts and their deeper nature. It also casts doubt on the appropriateness of the term "ethnic war" to characterize some African conflicts and presents a hypothetical model that could be applied to other conflict zones around the world.
This article examines the violence of war from a temporal point of view, looking at various contemporary conflicts from a long-term perspective involving three kinds of time: “historical” time, “traditional” time and “mythical” time. It thus provides some elements that help explain the length of these conflicts, but also their deeper nature. In particular, it casts doubt on the appropriateness of the term “ethnic war”, which has been used to characterize some of them. The hypothetical model presented here focuses on Africa, but it could also be applied to conflict zones in other parts of the world.