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Daga, Moudwe (2022) Identity, Belonging and State Formation in Chad. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Restricted to Repository staff only until 9 June 2025.


This thesis explores from an empirical perspective the relationship between the state and society in Chad. It looks at how people in Chad construct their identities based on the existing identity divide between ‘les sudistes’ (the southerners) and ‘les nordistes’ (the northerners), through which the southerner is assumed to be Christian whereas the northerner is seen as Muslim. Following an analysis of data collected through focus-groups, I provide an understanding of the north/south identity divide based on people’s perception of their ethnic and religious differences, and how such constructions affect their sense of belonging to the national community and their relationships to the state. Using Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, this research started primarily as an enquiry into whether a ‘we-feeling’ can develop among a fractured and ethnically divided community, with the potential of healing social divisions caused by political violence and repairing the social foundation of the Chadian state. I offer a reading of these relationships between state and society from below, by examining the popular constructions of shared identity and feelings of belonging to the political community, and how these reinforce/fragment the authority of the state. The thesis presents a complex story about both the historical effects and the everyday attempts by Chadian elites and citizens, in relation to each other and the wider world, to construct a shared identity. The thesis argues that the northerner and the southerner identities are historically constructed and configured, and they are based on popular perceptions of difference between the two categories rather than existing cultural or religious features shared within each group. It concludes that the persistence of the division depends on the maintenance of an imagined boundary through which the north is artificially presented as different from the south. By emphasising the agency of local level actors in the construction of the historical demarcation of the north from the south, this thesis provides an innovative approach to understanding identity formation as a process emerging between elites and citizens, rather than either by elite manipulation or by the grassroots actors.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Julia Gallagher
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2022 10:35

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