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This blog was set up by members of the ‘Upper Guinea Coast’ research group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale, Germany. It provides a space for sharing thoughts and debates concerning processes of integration and conflict along the Upper Guinea Coast, spanning from Casamance (Senegal) in the West to Liberia in the East. We are looking forward to receiving your contributions!

The Upper Guinea Coast region is particularly heterogeneous in terms of social and political structures, ethnic identities and languages spoken. Historically, its societal makeup was shaped by the encounters between the different local societies, their interaction with the large empires of the Sahel region, and with the Europeans from the 16th century onwards. Different settler groups – liberated slaves and people from the Middle East – have contributed to the region’s social configurations. The transatlantic slave trade and colonial domination have markedly influenced the attitudes towards respective ‘others’ and the interactions between different categories of people.

Some Upper Guinea Coast countries have been among the most violent regions in Africa in the recent past, others have experienced wide-spread political instability and recurrent outbursts of violence. However, the region has also known extended periods of integrative interaction. There are social institutions which facilitate the incorporation of strangers, the integration of socio-cultural difference, as well as mediation and (re-)conciliation in situations of conflict.

Aiming at a better understanding of the social dynamics related to integrative and violent forms of interaction at different levels of Upper Guinea Coast societies, we keep in mind that integration and conflict are interrelated dimensions of social interaction and that the same traditions, values and structures within a society may have different effects at different times, depending on their historical, social, political, and economic contextualization.

We conduct field research in all countries along the Upper Guinea Coast. Some of us also engage as consultants in different fields of development cooperation and policy-making.

Current members of the IC_UGC research group:

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