American University
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posted on 2023-08-04, 18:37 authored by Michel Tinguiri

This dissertation explores the relevance of social capital in post-displacement livelihood reconstruction under Project ZACA, an urban renewal project in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Based on ethnographic research, it examines how displacees mobilized and used socioeconomic resources to restore and attempt to improve their livelihoods after displacement. Providing a historical background of Project ZACA and urban transformation in Ouagadougou more broadly, the study details a repeated history of dispossession leading to impoverishment, school dropouts, trauma, deaths, and the loss of valuable social networks and infrastructure. The study shows that while social capital is significant, the availability of infrastructure, diverse livelihood strategies, diverse institutional resources, and cross-sectoral synergy remain central components to post-displacement livelihood reconstruction. These factors interact with individual agency to determine displaced people's access to and use of resources for the improvement of their livelihoods. Building on collective and individual awareness and solidarity, displacees challenged the Burkina repressive state apparatus, its strategies of exclusive production of city space and its representation of good citizenship. The dissertation underscores that displacees adopted open and hidden resistance to the state's actions, including the use of financial structures and the creation of associations to rebuild their livelihoods. Post-displacement livelihood reconstruction requires a continuous struggle against socioeconomic and political constraints. In the light of competing scholarly explanations of post-displacement livelihood reconstruction, these findings allow us to understand Project ZACA as a symbol of the state's strategies for the production of physical, political, and socioeconomic space, sometimes at the expense of citizens. Post-displacement livelihood reconstruction is indeed a struggle against destruction for an inclusive, productive, sustainable and liberating form of development. The study also shows how embodied gender expectations played a major role in accessing tontines (rotating credit systems) as part of livelihood diversification and improvement. Such practices highlight gendered spaces, gender roles and a shift in intra-household relationships and negotiation in post-displacement reconstruction. The study also reveals that livelihood reconstruction often includes community building through local associations, and socio-religious activities and events. This dissertation contributes to the body of literature on the role of social capital in livelihood reconstruction after forced displacement, as well as literature on migration, involuntary displacement, urban development and gender studies.



American University


Degree awarded: Ph.D. Anthropology. American University