Young protesters’ ambivalence about violence in the 2015 crisis in Burundi: local legacies of conflict and generational change

In this article, Lidewyde Berckmoes explores how local legacies of conflict informed the escalation and understanding of violence in the mass demonstrations in Bujumbura, Burundi in April and May 2015. The paper investigates how the mass demonstrations evolved from an unarmed citizen movement into the marker of relapse into violent crisis. Uniquely, it explores the perspectives and practices of civilian witnesses and participants in the mass demonstrations, focusing on the early stages when violence escalated. This focus provides an important contribution to extant literature that explores the limits of international peace brokerage. Instead, it instead seeks to understand the views and practices of civilians at a moment when the outcomes of taking to the street were still uncertain. In this way, the paper seeks to critically investigate the role of ‘ordinary people’ in shaping the dynamics of war and peace, thus adding to current debates about the ‘local turn’ in peace and conflict studies.

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This article appeared in Peacebuilding, Volume 11, issue 3: In/civility in peace and conflict (2023). Abingdon: Taylor & Francis Online.

Author(s) / editor(s)

Lidewyde Berckmoes

About the author(s) / editor(s)

As associate professor and senior researcher at the African Studies Centre Leiden, Lidewyde Berckmoes employs life-course and intergenerational perspectives to increase understanding of cyclical dynamics of conflict and peace in the Great Lakes Region, particularly Burundi and Rwanda. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, Lidewyde uses anthropological perspectives while building collaborations with colleagues in migration studies, medical anthropology, psychology and psychiatry to come to new insights in long-term effects of conflict on children, young people and families.




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