Matthias Basedau / Alexander De Juan

The ‘Ambivalence of the Sacred’ in Africa: The Impact of Religion on Peace and Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa

GIGA Working Paper, No. 70, March 2008

Abstract
Given the widespread focus on socioeconomic factors, it comes as no surprise that religion is neglected in most theoretical explanations of African civil conflicts. While scholarly interest is increasing in light of the civil wars in Sudan, Nigeria, and northern Uganda, no systematic empirical analysis has been undertaken to date. Hence, this paper aims to provide a preliminary assessment of the role of religions in sub-Saharan civil conflicts. Quantitative and qualitative analysis based on a newly compiled database including 28 violent conflicts show that religion plays a role more frequently than is usually assumed and that the effects of religions are principally ambiguous. Religious actors and institutions have escalating effects in many cases, yet more often they become active for peace. Religious identities and ideas seem to have a particular impact on conflict. Even though religion seems secondary when compared to classical "risk factors," the findings demonstrate that religious factors have to be taken seriously when analyzing civil conflicts in Africa.

Related Research at the GIGA

Related Research Tabs

GIGA Authors

Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau

Director of the GIGA Institute of African Affairs
Editor GIGA Focus Africa

Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau is director of the GIGA Institute of African Affairs and professor of political science at the University of Hamburg. His research focuses on political institutions and armed conflicts, as well as how both are linked to ethnicity, religion, and natural resources. He is also the regional coordinator for Central and West Africa within the framework of the Bertelsmann Transformation Index.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Matthias Basedau

Party Systems in Africa

in: Nic Cheeseman (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming

Matthias Basedau

Die ‚African Renaissance‘: Möglichkeiten für die deutsche und europäische Afrikapolitik

in: Metis (ed.), Metis-Perspektiven: Afrika – der aufsteigende Kontinent, Berlin und München: Metis, 2019, 6-10

Matthias Basedau

Book Review: Africanistan - Development or Jihad? by Serge Mihailof

Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik, 2019

Matthias Basedau

Book Review: Africanistan - Development or Jihad? by Serge Mihailof

Africa Spectrum, 54, 2019, 2, 176-178

Matthias Basedau / Jonathan Fox / Christopher Huber / Arne Pieters / Tom Konzack / Mora Deitch

Introducing the "Religious Minorities at Risk" Dataset

Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, 25, 2019, 4