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uni'wissen 01-2016_ENG

among various authorities.” The monopoly of vio- lence is often replaced by an oligopoly of violence: “It encompasses a fluctuating number of violent agents of various quality that compete in some cases and cooperate in others.” The people recognize whoever can provide for their safety and solve problems. Democratic legitimacy is of lesser importance. Those who are interested in achieving peace are well-advised to find out who has the people’s trust, recommends Mehler. These are the groups that peacemakers need to meet with and seek the cooperation of, even if they are not exactly paragons of democratic virtue. That sounds like a lot of detailed work on a local scale and nuanced scrutiny of unfamiliar conditions. The simplistic categories in which the western world thinks, classifying conflicts either as ethnic or as religious, do not lead to viable solutions in many notoriously crisis-ridden areas, as Mehler has verified in his research. Comparative Research The political scientist’s aim is not to “make sweeping conclusions on the basis of singular situations.” He has thus turned to comparative research: “We focus on places where we assume that these problems exist. But we can’t go every- where, because some regions are too danger- ous.” For his DFG-funded research project “Alternatives to State-Sponsored Security in Areas of Extremely Limited Statehood,” he decided to concentrate on the Central African Republic and South Sudan. These two countries rank among the weakest states in the world with regard to the capacity of their institutions to solve problems. He asks questions like these: Have there been national peace agreements? How were they interpreted locally? Were there incentives to shape politics outside of the urban centers, through measures like giving more autonomy to municipal councils? Then he compares the situation before and after the agreement: Has something improved, or are the embers of the conflict still smoldering? In February 2016, Mehler spent ten days in the Central African Republic. His colleagues were there for up to two months to conduct inter- views. He also included local assistants in the research work, for instance to help conduct surveys among the population. Moreover, he organized roundtable discussions with selected groups – well-informed market women, teachers, and youth organizations that are being mobilized for the struggle – to gain insight into local power constellations. Mehler has become a much sought-after expert on the refugee crisis among members of the national and state parliaments. After all, he knows a lot about why refugees leave their native country behind. Further Reading Zanker, F. / Simons, C. / Mehler, A. (2015): Spatiality, power, and peace in Africa: Revisiting territorial power-sharing. In: African Affairs 114/454, pp. 72–91. doi: 10.1093/afraf/adu064 Simons, C. / Zanker, F. / Mehler, A. et al. (2013): Power-sharing in Africa’s war zones: How important is the local level? In: Journal of Modern African Studies 51/4, pp. 681–706. doi: 10.1017/S0022278X13000645 Mehler, A. (2012): From “Protecting civilians” to “For the sake of democracy” (and back again). Justifying intervention in Côte d'Ivoire. In: African Security 5/3-4, pp. 199–216. doi: 10.1080/19392206.2012.732892 Prof. Dr. Andreas Mehler studied political science and history at the University of Mannheim. He earned his PhD at the University of Hamburg, where he also went on to complete his habilitation thesis in 2011. He served as director of the GIGA Institute for Africa Studies from 2002 to 2015, and he was appointed director of the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute and professor of development policy and theory of development at the University of Freiburg in 2015. Mehler is a board member of the African Stud- ies Association in Germany and is co-editor of the journal Africa Spectrum. His research focuses on Central and West Africa and deals with power sharing after peace treaties, violent conflicts, crisis prevention, states and statehood, and German and French Africa policies. Photo: Arnold Bergstraesser Institute Village in South Sudan: Regions far from capital cities and other urban centers often develop their own power structures. Photo: Wollwerth Imagery/Fotolia 19