At the beginning of the 21st century, 16 of Africa’s 54 countries were directly affected by armed conflict. According to Politics of Origin in Africa, a joint polemic by Morten Bøås and Kevin Dunn, the rise of these disputes is essentially about land, predominantly at a local level.

Using Liberia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d’Ivoire as case studies, this book looks at how myths that falsely lay claim to identity, ethnicity, citizenship and territory have been manipulatively used by governments as a tool to sustain state-building projects, and preserve self-interest disguised as ultra-nationalism.

Both authors recognize a number of factors that have contributed to the rise of this political phenomenon, known as autochthony – most notably: globalization; the rocky road to democratization; colonialism, and state-sponsored private militias.

The rise of these territorial disputes has seen unprecedented violence across the African continent. By 2007, for example, it was estimated that over 5.4 million people died in DR Congo, making it the most deadly conflict to emerge globally since the Second World War.

Readers unfamiliar with conflict resolution studies, however, will have little interest, or reason, to finish this book, which makes no attempt to condense its thesis into anything even remotely resembling a reader-friendly narrative.