This paper takes up the notion of citizenship and ethnicity as forms of belonging in the context of globalisation. The discussion draws on a case study focusing on a Fulfuldephone servile group from Northern Benin called the Gando. Since pre-colonial times, their servile status ascribed by birth has been an argument for placing them at the margins of their society and excluding them from political participation. While still claiming their belonging to the nation-state of Benin and the Fulbe's culture, the Gando have progressively built a new social identity that is showing to be a new ethnic group. In the context of the decentralisation reform implemented in 2002-2003, the Gando have taken the opportunity to access local power; they conquered municipal power in the 2003 and 2008 local elections. In doing so they opened the gates to a full citizenship that in the context of today's Benin means a clientelistic citizenship. Contrary to recent literature focused on the simultaneous emergence of belonging dynamics and violent conflicts in the context of recent globalisation in developing countries, the author argues that belonging dynamics do not necessarily imply violent conflicts and exclusion dynamics.
- identity politics
- West Africa