ASA: The ASSN Think Tank

News from sub-Saharan Africa highlights bluntly the necessity to have a more subtle understanding of socio-cultural dynamics specific to the African continent. Launched by the African Security Sector Network (ASSN) to perpetuate the research program “Hybrid Security Governance in Africa” funded by the IDRC (International Development Research Centre) of Canada, the think tank “African Societal Analysis/Analyse Sociétale Africaine”(ASA) proposes to help decision-makers better grasp sociological realities within which the security and development governance in Africa is rooted.

The ASA’s expertise, which mobilizes a network of African experts with daily close links with grassroots, highlights the role of non-state actors, local or transnational networks as well as so-called informal standards and practices, throughout the following six poles:

  • Pole 1: Traditional authorities, community memberships and social solidarities / exclusions;
  • Pole 2: Religions and religious networks;
  • Pole 3: Gender;
  • Pole 4: Informal security and justice;
  • Pole 5: Social change and emerging stakeholders;
  • Pole 6: Africa and international networks.

While completing analysis based on government institutions and legally established stakeholders, the ASA proposes thus a new approach, focused on trends in-depth structuring African societies.

The ASA think tank makes sociological and anthropological knowledge on Africa readily useable and aims at not only helping overcome resistance encountered by security and development policies, but also enabling the identification of new opportunities that could increase the impact of those policies on the field.

The ASA approach relies on “institutional mapping” presented both on textual and visual manner (computer graphics) accompanied by operational recommendations that are readily accessible via different media:

  • Short analytical notes released in French and English on a weekly basis by email and posted on social networks and on the ASSN web site;
  • Tailored expertise (case studies) on societal and cultural dynamics of today’s Africa;
  • Training via distance learning (e-learning resources, video supports, tele-briefings via visual conference or via Skype, Webinars) or on site training courses.

By innovating through the use of indicators that are most often disregarded and by the production of original carriers, the ASA’s objective is threefold:

  • Reinforce with new parameters the watchdog and early warning systems, crisis prevention and conflict resolution, including mediation processes more rooted in local and societal context;
  • Support security and development policies formulation, based on a deeper understanding of local realities; and
  • Connect decision-makers with a new community of African experts.

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