1 results for Anderson, William Jeffrey Cairns

  • Shadow Cultures, Shadow Histories: Foreign Military Personnel in Africa 1960-1980

    Anderson, William Jeffrey Cairns (2012)

    Masters thesis
    University of Otago

    From the 1960s to the 1980s mercenary soldiers in Africa captured the attention of journalists, authors and scholars. This thesis critically examines the shadows of mercenarism in sub-Saharan Africa during decolonisation – an intense period of political volatility, fragility and violence. The shadows of conflict are spaces fuelled by forces of power where defined boundaries of illegal/legal, illicit/licit and legitimate/illegitimate become obscured. Nordstrom (2000, 2001, 2004, 2007) invokes the shadows as a substantive ethnographic and analytical concept in anthropological research. This thesis considers how the shadows are culturally, socially and politically contingent spaces where concepts of mercenarism are contested. Specific attention is given to ‘shadow agents’ – former foreign military combatants, diplomats and politicians – whose lived experiences shed light on the power, ambiguities and uncertainties of the shadows. Arguing the importance of mixed method ethnography, this thesis incorporates three bodies of anthropological knowledge. Material from the official state archives of New Zealand and the United Kingdom (UK) where, amongst themselves, politicians and diplomats debated the ‘mercenary problem’, are used alongside oral testimonies from former foreign soldiers whose individual stories provide important narratives omitted from official records. This ethnography also draws on multi-sited fieldwork, including participant observation in Africa, the UK and New Zealand that engages with and captures the more intimate details of mercenary soldiering. As findings suggest, the worlds of diplomacy, politics and mercenarism are composed of shadow cultures where new perspectives and understandings emerge.

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