Trust and Distrust in Rebel-Held Côte d’Ivoire

Heitz Tokpa, Katharina E.. Trust and Distrust in Rebel-Held Côte d’Ivoire. 2020, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/83738/

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This thesis offers a unique view of everyday life during the war and rebel rule in the town of Man in the West of Côte d’Ivoire between 2002 and 2010. It compellingly shows how the rebel-civilian relationship was transformed in the course of the conflict from a war-like situation to a more stable governance situation. Drawing on the author’s own experience of living in the rebel-controlled town of Man, the ethnography develops the argument that those who stayed in the rebel-held areas developed attitudes and practices of trust and distrust that allowed them to continue living along with the rebels.
From a theoretical point of view, the thesis uses the analytical lens of ‘trust’ to look at how local people dealt with the massive transformation induced by the violent conflict. It adopts a Simmelian notion of trust, describing trust as a state between knowing and not-knowing. Trust may be defined as a confident expectation that others will act in a benevolent way. As misplaced trust may have fatal consequences, particularly in violent conflicts, people seek signs of trustworthiness before they trust. Nevertheless, trust always contains an element of uncertainty. In order to experience the fulfilment of trust, we have to risk disappointment, as well. Based on these different qualities of trust, I argue that trust may be re-established not only after the political situation has improved, but also prior to political transformations since actors who are willing to trust are crucial for the initiation of political transformations. This forward-pushing dimension of trust has been largely neglected by rational choice-based theories of trust, but proved salient in my study for the return of a new normality in everyday life and for peace.
Trust has become established as a recognized object of social science research over the last three decades, although anthropology has only made minor contributions to this field so far. The major contribution of the thesis to trust research is its theorisation of negative forms of trust, proposing a distinction between ‘distrust’ and ‘mistrust’ on the basis of predictability.
Advisors:Förster, Till and Bruijn de, Mirjam
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Visuelle und politische Ethnologie (Förster)
UniBasel Contributors:Heitz Tokpa, Katharina E. and Förster, Till
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:13940
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:365
Identification Number:
  • urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-bau-diss139401
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:04 Nov 2022 05:30
Deposited On:03 Nov 2022 07:29

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