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Practice Job Talk: The Politics of Community Resilience to Armed Jihadism in West Africa

When: Monday, September 18, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM CT

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student

Contact: Ariel Sowers   (847) 491-7454

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join the Political Science Department as they host Lamin Keita, Ph.D. for a Practice Job Talk for a presentation based on his research into jihadism in West Africa.

Why do some communities use violence to oppose armed religious extremists or "jihadists" groups while other communities with similar conditions adopt nonviolent resistance? This dissertation examines sub-national and cross-national variation in communities' resistance to violent armed jihadists penetration, using Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Senegal as case studies. However, the case of Burkina Faso is the focus of this presentation. Factors such as poverty, grievances, and religious demographics provide little insight into why resistance patterns vary in West African communities. Previous studies have paid little attention to the role of governing state capacity (state capacity or capacity of state actors) and the full scope of their relationships with the organizational integrity of religious establishment's embeddedness capacity (religious establishment or communities) to manage the expansion of violent extremist network penetration. This study argues that fluctuation in the religious establishments' power and their informal (formally or informally recognized) links to state actors' capacity affect the character and resilience of armed jihadists' mobilization and penetration. The study finds that the weak state capacity (broadly defined in terms of institutional and informal capacities) and weak religious establishment interaction influence the increase of armed jihadists' mobilization and penetration in some West African Sahelian countries. Drawing on one hundred and fifty in-depth interviews, archival research, and secondary sources, the study explores how the state and local communities frame their relationship in sharing information to counter violent armed jihadist mobilization and infiltration. A key insight of this research is that it takes seriously the context in which political authority outside formal state institutions is exercised. 

Lamin Keita is a comparative study of political violence analyst and researcher, currently completing a doctoral degree in Comparative Politics and International Relations at the Political Science Department of Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Science at Northwestern University, United States. His current research interests include community radicalization, comparative studies of political violence (Terrorism), International Security Studies, Democratization, and Human Rights with a regional specialization on West African Sahel and Africa. Keita is a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellow and Social Science Research Council (SSRC-IDRF) Fellow. Prior to enrolling in Northwestern University graduate school, Keita served as a journalist in West Africa but was forced to seek political asylum in the United States. He subsequently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, obtaining his BA in Political Science and a Master's degree at Northwestern University.

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