Proposed Panel Title: The Internal and International Dimensions of Civil Wars in Africa

This panel might expand beyond a strict focus on civil conflict in a single state to explore the transnational dynamics of civil wars in Africa. For example, investigating the interlocking nature of conflict in the Great Lakes region.

Individual Paper Abstract:
South Africa’s Transition and the Angolan Analogy: How the Example of Conflict Contributes to Peace

International Relations scholars have identified how some civil conflicts create a “demonstration effect” that encourages groups in nearby states to take up arms. However, less work has been done on how this process also functions in reverse – the ways in which a conflict in one state can act as cautionary tale in a neighbouring state, and push competing groups in that nearby state toward peace. While South Africa moved toward a negotiated transfer of power in the early 1990s, Angola, after a brief period of hope that surrounded a cease-fire and elections in 1992, reverted to devastating war. Angola’s conflict provided a powerful warning of what might happen in South Africa if negotiations were unsuccessful. My paper begins by explaining why the press and party leaders from across South Africa discussed the dynamics of their own country’s transition through reference to the conflict in Angola. It then explores three cases that illuminate how the Angolan analogy was used in South Africa: as a lens to predict how events in South Africa might unfold, as a lever to advocate for a particular transitional process, and as a rhetorical device to pillory leaders not participating in the peace process.

Email Christopher Williams (University of the Witwatersrand) at by March 19 to join.