• Contested spaces, new opportunities: displacement, return and the rural economy in Casamance, Senegal

      Evans, Martin; University of Chester (Zed Books, 2014-05-08)
      Casamance is the southwesternmost part of Senegal, largely separated from the rest of the country by The Gambia to the north and bordering Guinea-Bissau to the south. As the scene of West Africa’s longest-running civil conflict, now some 30 years old, Casamance provides a case of displacement economies on a relatively small scale but of long duration. The focus here is on human displacement, understood as the enforced physical dislocation of people, the dynamics of their return and resettlement, and the economic, political and social effects related to these processes. Much of the long-term human displacement in the conflict has occurred in the relatively narrow band of territory between the south bank of the Casamance River and northern border districts of Guinea-Bissau. Following flight and protracted exile from this border area in the 1990s, however, the 2000s and beyond have mostly seen people return, driven by economic and social desperation coupled with generally improved (though still at times volatile) security conditions, and supported by international aid for reconstruction. Building on field research conducted over twelve years, the chapter considers the emergent economic and political landscape of the border area. It shows how this landscape is the result of layers of displacement over two decades, situated within a deeper historical context of migration. From a theoretical perspective, it seeks to understand these dynamics through the concept of ‘relational space’, formulated in human geography and beginning to be used, if not always explicitly, in studies of displacement.