War's Everyday: Normalizing Violence and Legitimizing Power


The article studies the everyday of violent conflicts and wars. It uses Somalia as a case study to explore how ordinary people experience and legitimize actors of violence. Building on biographic interviews, I show how violence became a normalized aspect of daily lives and was integrated in the habitus of people who developed the ability to routinely respond to it. However, I also show, that the specific temporality of violence impedes its full routinization and normalization. Legitimation processes in Somalia are marked by the tension of the routinized extraordinariness that protracted violence generates. Unsurprisingly, therefore, legitimation was mainly driven by experiences of security. These experiences were closely tied to four factors: clan membership, mobility, justice, and patriarchal conventions. These findings demonstrate the need to further develop a relational and processual understanding of legitimation that takes account of the everyday, as it is here that the actions of violent groups are felt, discussed, agreed-upon, rejected, or contested.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v15i1p121

Keywords: War; Normalization of Violence; Armed Groups; Rebel Rule; Legitimacy; Everyday; Somalia


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