Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism

Call for Papers – Special Issue on Identity Politics and African Armies: A Comparative Analysis

Across sub-Saharan Africa, countries are developing security and military capacities to deal with emerging and existing threats. While many of these threats are contemporary —Islamic jihadism and terror cells —other threats originate from structural imbalances that date back to how African states were formed during and after the colonial periods. Although the rivalry between groups (ethnic, tribal, communal, etc.) existed before colonial periods, competition between groups was exacerbated during colonisation periods1. Indeed in sub-Saharan Africa, the impact of colonisation has continued to shape the way societies form, distribute wealth, support elites’ structures and manipulate institutions. Many sub-Saharan African societies, for example, continue to function through colonial identity-based systems based on ethnic lineages, clans, tribes, and family structures, which influence social, economic, political and inter-communal institutions in these states2. In the context of security institutions in the region, many sub-Saharan African states have continued to use the colonial tradition of employing identity-based criteria to develop their armies, recruit forces and provide professional training, which has shaped how military actors and state leaders respond during a crisis.

In both South Sudan3 and Somalia4 we can see how ethnicity has shaped power-sharing agreements, civil-military relations, the protection of civilians, and the military’s role, which raises concern about whether these forces can truly be as professional as hoped for. In contrast, some countries have made attempts at restructuring their military/army policies via ethnic diversification, such as Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal. Nevertheless, cases such as Guinea-Bissau demonstrate how such reform efforts can lead to the military interfering in state affairs (by seizing power) to protect its privileged position. Moreover, this simplistic notion to ethnically restructure in efforts to ensure political stability neglects the influence of external actors who directly support internal and local militia forces, reshaping how states forces respond during a crisis.

Drawing on cases from Chad, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan, this Special Issue seeks to understand how ethnicity impacts African military effectiveness and the influence of identity politics on military and state leaders’ decision-making process during a security crisis. We welcome other cases in line with the focus and ethos of the Special Issue.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of research areas we would be interested in for this special issue:

  1. how identity politics influences recruitment, training forces and national military frameworks and institutions;
  2. how ethnicity affects deployment during peace support and peacekeeping operations;
  3. the ways external actors use identity politics to support and/or change state security structures;
  4. how troops can unevenly distribute violence on civilians;
  5. how ethnicity influences gender perspectives (negatively or positively) in African armies.


With this call, we aim to cast our net wide and attract scholars working on identity politics, state responses to crisis, African armies, and African security responses to a crisis. We welcome both individual and group proposals for consideration for publication. Individual paper proposals will be evaluated on their merit even if submitted as part of a group submission.

  • Individual scholars interested in submitting an individual paper proposal are invited to submit: (1) a proposed title; (2) a 500-word proposal/abstract; and (3) a biography of the author.
  • Scholars interested in submitting as a group are invited to submit: (1) proposed authors; (2) proposed title and 500-word proposal/abstract for each individual paper; (3) a biography of each of the authors.
  • Scholars interested in submitting short feature articles on the topic are also welcomed to express interest separately to the editors by submitting: (1) a proposed title; (2) a short 250-word abstract; and (3) a biography of the author.

Requirements and Guidelines

All papers will follow APA style with few if any endnotes and a list of references alphabetically ordered at the end. Each paper observes a 7500-8000-word limit with reference page double-spaced, including tables, charts, and other possible attachments. Materials presented must be original and not published either in full or part elsewhere, without the publisher’s express permission. All papers should be organised with the common framework as listed below:

  • Addressing the problem(s) and explaining the paper’s purpose and scope using single or multiple theoretical analysis and relevant literature on ethnicity, civil-military relations and African security.
  • Using APA 7th style in citations and references.
  • Presenting a clear discussion section of the materials presented and
  • Offering a conclusion with clear policy and administrative implications and contributions to theory/knowledge.

Important deadlines

  • May 1: submission of paper abstracts and expressions of interest
    If authors already have a paper ready for submission, they are welcome to submit it already at this stage, which will facilitate acceptance earlier and accelerate the peer-review and publication process.
  • May 20: Editors will inform authors whose paper proposals have been accepted for consideration for publication in the Special Issue on Identity Politics and African Armies.
  • July 30: Submission of final papers for peer-review.
  • August-September: The papers will go through a double-blind peer-review process.
  • October 4: Papers are sent back to authors for review and finalising.
  • November 1: Papers are submitted to editors in the final version.

We expect the papers to be published in SEN’s April 2022 issue. Please send all submissions to SEN’s Editors, Dr Dina Mansour-Ille ( and Dr Anastasia Voronkova (, clearly stating “Identity Politics and African Armies Special Issue” in the subject line.

About Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism:

Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism (SEN) is a fully refereed journal on ethnicity, identity and nationalism, published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Association of the Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN). The sources and nature of ethnic identity, minority rights, migration and identity politics remain central and recurring themes of the modern world. The journal approaches the complexity of these questions from a contemporary perspective and, based on the latest scholarship, draws on a range of disciplines, including political science, sociology, anthropology, economics, international relations, history and cultural studies.

SEN publishes three issues per volume, including regular special issues on themes of contemporary relevance. The journal aims to showcase exceptional articles from up-and-coming scholars across the world and concerned professionals and practitioners in government, law, NGOs, and the media, making it one of the first journals to provide an interdisciplinary forum for established and younger scholars alike. The journal is strictly non-partisan and does not subscribe to any particular viewpoints or perspective. All submitted articles to SEN go through a double-blind peer-reviewed process by scholar’s specialists in their respective fields.

1 – Blanton, R., Mason, T., & Athow, B. (2001). Colonial Style and Post-Colonial Ethnic Conflict in Africa. Journal of Peace Research,38(4), 473-491. Retrieved February 17, 2021, from

2 – Deng, F. M. (1997). “Ethnicity: An African Predicament.”

3 – Johnson, H. (2016). South Sudan: The Untold Story from Independence to Civil War

4 –  Day, A. (2020). Hybrid Conflict, Hybrid Peace: How militias and paramilitary groups shape post-conflict transitions.