Danger, Moral Opacity, and Outrage

Fear of Jihadism and the Terrorist Threat in Southern Mali

in Conflict and Society
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  • 1 Norwegian University of Science and Technology tone.sommerfelt@ntnu.no
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Abstract

This article explores hostile narratives and moral outrage in the context of rising conflict in urban Mali, with a specific emphasis on religious and spatial politics in Bamako. Based on ethnographic observations, interviews, and group discussions, the article examines the specific forms that moral outrage may take in contexts of insecurity and an imminent threat of violence. It argues that moral outrage concerns the transgression of values that are intrinsic to moral being. In the Mali setting, moral outrage emerges as justifiable when people fail, or refuse, to make visible or prove their moral being. Suspected ill-doers are ascribed economic, political, and religious agendas that threaten what it means to be Muslim and that violate the value of the mutual solidarity of the Muslim community and of the nation. At the same time, the public expression of moral outrage contributes to a broader negotiation of identities and state-society relationships.

Contributor Notes

TONE SOMMERFELT is a postdoctoral fellow at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She received her PhD in social anthropology from the University of Oslo in 2013, based on long-term fieldworks in the Gambia. Since then, she has conducted research on religious reorientation in Mali and on issues related to the global governance of child protection. Her topical interests include morality, marriage and migration, development discourses, and the anthropology of Islam. Email: tone.sommerfelt@ntnu.no

Conflict and Society

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