Conflicting Stories and Contending Images of Africa

Conflicting stories and contending images make the perception of Africa confusing. Whose perception and whose perspective prevails is a matter of power relationship.

As Paul Watzlawick put it “…the belief that one’s own view of reality is the only reality is the most dangerous of all delusions. It becomes still more dangerous if it is coupled with a missionary zeal to enlighten the rest of the world, whether the rest of the world wishes to be enlightened or not. To refuse to embrace wholeheartedly a particular definition of reality (i.e., ideology), to dare to see the world differently, can become a ‘think crime’ in a truly Orwellian sense…” (How Real Is Real? Confusion, Disinformation, Communication, 1976).

Conflicting Stories and Contending Images of Africa


The Harlem Renaissance coincided with the emergence of African intelligentsia between the two World Wars. While the struggle for independence was going on one side of the Atlantic (Africa), the Civil Rights movement was raging on the other side of the Atlantic (the US). And at the time the “securitization” of Africa is based on the perception and perspective of the West, that of the African-African community is handled through over-policing with increased militarization in both cases. Will the symbiosis of oppression and resistance of people of African descent on both sides of the Atlantic continue and will a sense of common purpose be forged in the evolving geopolitics? These questions are discussed by Marcel Kitissou in a keynote at the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the independence of Ghana in Albany, NY.

Africa and the African Diaspora

The Moral Economy of Hunger: Lessons from the US and the Sahel

Marcel Kitissou provocatively charts the cartography of hunger in Sahelian Africa and the United States to challenge dominant representations of the spaces of hunger and, in the face of the proliferation of hunger, call for a “moral economy” that can reconcile “personal responsability (oikois) and social  solidarity (polis).”the-moral-economy-of-hunger-lessons-from-the-us-and-the-sahel-final

France and the United States in Western Sahel: Cooperation and Competition in an Interlocking Conflict-Conference Presentation





This paper was presented by Marcel Kitissou at the Symposium on Development, Extremism, Security and the State in Africa organized by Cornell Institute for African Development’s Symposium on October 28-29, 2016.


France and the United States in Western Sahel: Cooperation and Competition in an Interlocking Conflict-Abstarct

 Abstract of paper to be presented at Cornell Institute for African Development’s Symposium on Development, Extremism, Security and the State in Africa, October 21-22, 2016

 By Marcel Kitissou

Gérard Chaliand (1980) explained the importance of Africa in the geopolitics of the Cold War era, listing resources such as diamond, gold, cobalt, vanadium, platinum, chromium, manganese, copper, uranium, and more. While these resources were essentially concentrated in countries of the southern part of the continent, none of which were colonized by France, gas and oil, phosphates, iron and uranium were located in countries of the Maghreb and western Sahara-Sahel, all of which, except for Libya and Western Sahara, were French possessions. Therefore, the area is of strategic importance for France. With regard to the United States in the Sahel region, all partners of the Trans-Sahel Counter-terrorism Initiative, announced by the G. W. Bush administration in 2005 and continued by the Obama administration as the Overseas Contingency Operations, are former French possessions except for Libya and Nigeria. In addition, western Sahel, where Tuareg irredentism takes place and where the presence of jihadi activists is salient, overlaps with both France’s traditional zone of influence and the US-led coalition of the willing against terrorism. Evidently, the nationalistic agenda of the Movement for the Liberation of Azawad in northern Mali neither coincides with the interests of France nor with the global ambition of al-Qaeda as, similarly, France’s national interests in the region are not in perfect harmony with the objectives, however complimentary, of the United States.

This paper will deconstruct the complex web of harmony and clash of interests that has led to increased militarization of the region.

Extremism, Conflict, Security, and the State in Africa – Call for Papers – Cornell Institute for African Development

The Cornell Institute for African Development (IAD) is holding a symposium on the theme,
“Extremism, Conflict, Security, and the State in Africa,” October 28‐29, 2016, on the Cornell University
campus. The symposium will explore the complex and multidimensional issues of development and
security in their broadest sense as well as the fundamental underpinnings of conflict through an interdisciplinary
approach. To read more, please click on the link.

Cornell Institute for African Development fall symposium (1)