Return to normalcy: Transition and futures in insecure spaces
Returning to normalcy or a scene of stability is always a political goal for the states battling the scene of continuous violent conflicts. Yet, the notion of normalcy can be a mirage or future promise when violent conflicts appear unfinished, or resolution appears permanently incomplete. This article argues that normalcy is not just a political goal but also a governance strategy in conflict-torn spaces. As a governance strategy, normalcy absorbs the narratives of a better future, thereby enabling actors and institutions to coevolve, transform and coordinate themselves to achieve specific versions of stabilisation. With respect to the armed conflicts in the Lake Chad Basin region, the article finds that Nigeria state’s declaration of return to normalcy enacts and transforms uncertainty and contingency into practical challenges and opportunities, impacting civilians’ temporal and practical orientation but also play a crucial role in the process of adaptation to evolving security threats in the frontlines. Normalcy, thus, unfolds as future-making, open and inevitable but also actionable, enacting collective and self-organised strategies to the state’s transition policy and visions in insecure spaces. This article reflects on the fact that institutionally generated future always plays out as collective and official visions driving transition narratives and subjects in conflict-torn spaces.
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