81949 - Conflicts and Inequalities in the Neoliberal Era (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Students will develop a critical understanding of neoliberal political-economy and its social impacts in local contexts Students will develop a critical approach to aid industry as a key issue to understand global governance processes. Students will be able to create autonomously a bibliography and a research project on the different issues pertaining to the course.

Course contents


Since the end of the cold war and the triumph of a neoliberal order, Africa has faced a huge number of conflicts that caused devastating social effects. Starting from the analysis of some ethnographic cases (Congo, Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leon, etc.), the first part of the course will explore the etiology of African contemporary political crisis and wars focusing on the link between local violence/suffering and global economic and political processes. Particular emphasis will be placed on the relationship between youth and war and the social imaginary shaped by the ongoing crisis.



Neoliberalism and inequality

David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford, Oxford University Press 2006.

Hickel J., The divide. A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solution, London, William Heinemann 2017.


African State

Bayart J.-F., Ellis S., Hibou B., The Criminalization of the State in Africa, Oxford, James Currey for the International African Institute 1998.

Chabal P., Daloz J.-P., Africa Works. Disorder as Political Instrument, Oxford, James Currey for the International African Institute 1998.

Bayart J.-F., The State in Africa: the Politics of the Belly, London and New York, Longman 1993.

Trefon T., Reinventing Order in the Congo: How People Respond to State Failure in Kinshasa, Zed Books, London 2004.


Globalization in Africa

Ferguson J., Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order, Durham and London, Duke University Press 2006.


African conflicts

Lan D., Guns and Rain: Guerrillas and Spirit Mediums in Zimbabwe, Oxford, James Currey 1985.

Richards P., Fighting for the Rain Forest: War, Youth and Resources in Sierra Leone, Oxford, James Currey 1996.

Ellis S., The Mask of Anarchy: The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimensions of an African Civil War, New York, New York University Press 1999.

Jourdan L., Generazione Kalashnikov. Un antropologo dentro la guerra in Congo, Bari-Roma, Laterza 2010.

Beherend H., Alice Lakwena & the Holy Spirits: War in Northern Uganda 1986-97, Oxford, James Currey 1999.


War Economy

Berdal M., Malone D. (eds.), Greed and grievance : economic agendas in civil wars, Boulder, Lynne Rienner Publishers 2000.

Keen D., The Benefits of Famine: A political economy of famine and relief in south-western Sudan 1983-1989, Chichester and Princeton, Princeton University Press 1994.

Young people and children in Africa

De Boeck F., Honwana A. (eds.), Makers and Breakers. Children & Youth in Postcolonial Africa, Oxford, James Currey 2005.


Witchcraft in contemporary Africa

Geschiere P., The Modernity of Witchcraft. Politics and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa, Charlottesville and London, University Press of. Virginia 1997.

Comaroff J, Comaroff J (eds.), Modernity and its malcontents. Ritual and Power in Postcolonial Africa, Chicago, University of Chicago Press 1993.


Development enterprise

Ferguson J., The Anti-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho, Cambridge University Press, New York 1990.

Uvin P, Aiding Violence. The development enterprise in Rwanda, West Hartford, Kumarian Press, 1998.

Duffiled M, Global Governance and the New Wars, London, Zed Books 2001.

Teaching methods

Lessons will consist of frontal lessons and collective discussions. The teacher will focus on the general topics in order to introduce the different scholary debates- Specific examples will be discussed to give a concrete idea of the diferent topics. Students will be encouraged to work autnomously, to comment and ask questions.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending

Students that attend classwork will have have to choose 2 books (3 books for the ones not attending) among the reading list and pass an oral exam. They must show to be able to contextualise the books and reconstruct their theoretical frameworks.

Proper language and the ability to critically analyze relevant topics will lead to a good/excellent final grade. Acceptable language and the ability to resume relevant topics will lead to a sufficient/fair grade.Insufficient linguistic proficiency and fragmentary knowledge of relevant topics will lead to a failure in passing the exam.

Being the module part of the integrated course "GLOBALIZATION AND ITS MALCOLTENTS (I.C.) (LM)", final evaluation will be the outcome of the evaluation of both exams: CONFLICTS AND INEQUALITIES IN THE NEOLIBERAL ERA (1) (LM) and GLOBAL HEALTH AND SUFFERING (1) (LM).

Teaching tools

During frontal lessons the teacher will use visual sources (documentaris, maps and photos).

Office hours

See the website of Luca Jourdan