Militia Movements in Africa: A Conceptual Examination and Reformulation

18 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2012

See all articles by Mugisha M. Mutabazi

Mugisha M. Mutabazi

Kyambogo University, Uganda; South Dakota State University

Date Written: April 17, 2012


What are militia movements and how do they emerge onto the socio-political scene? This question is not treated well in the literature. Thus, the concept 'militia movement/group' remains narrowly construed and ambiguous. Actors involved, interests served, and relationships between militias, society and state, are not well articulated. I re-conceptualize militias by developing two models and operational measures relating to their fluidity, complexity, processes, terms and dynamics surrounding their formation; and map these on continua based on degrees of legitimacy and extent of actors’ agency. Varying degrees of legitimacy: illegitimate; quasi-legitimate; legitimizing; and legitimate and varying extents of agency: coerced; cajoled; manipulated; and agentic, are mapped and explicated. However, even these models are not sufficient to fully grasp the complexity of militias. I conclude by underscoring the need for further interrogation of militias focusing on their properties or attributes. Interrogating properties has potential to reveal not only their essence , but also a mélange of issues associated with them.

Keywords: militias, concept, legitimacy, agency, africa

Suggested Citation

Mutabazi, Marion Mugisha, Militia Movements in Africa: A Conceptual Examination and Reformulation (April 17, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Marion Mugisha Mutabazi (Contact Author)

Kyambogo University, Uganda ( email )

P.O. Box 1
Kampala, +256

South Dakota State University ( email )

2220 10th St Apt #1
Brookings, SD South Dakota 57007-0895
United States
6056519201 (Phone)


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