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Diamonds: A Conflict Theoriser’s Best Friend -Exploring how the ‘Blood Diamond’ Discourse Drives ‘Resource Conflict’ Analysis

Diamonds: A Conflict Theoriser’s Best Friend -Exploring how the ‘Blood Diamond’ Discourse Drives ‘Resource Conflict’ Analysis

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Therese Rudebeck. Originally submitted for IR3042 Representation of Violent Conflict at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Dr. Jaremy McMullin in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Therese Rudebeck. Originally submitted for IR3042 Representation of Violent Conflict at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Dr. Jaremy McMullin in the category of International Relations & Politics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/13/2014

 
 
Diamonds: A Conflict 
Theoriser’s Best Friend
 
Exploring how the ‘Blood Diamond’ Discourse Drives
Resource Conflict 
Analysis
 
Word Count: 4998
 
1
Abstract:
In the realm of conflict analysis, a variety of idiosyncratically eclectic discourses have been
created about diamonds. Among these, the ‘blood diamond’ discourse, where ‘conflict’ diamondshave come to symbolize the ‘heart of the matter’ in the ‘heart of darkness’”, ha
s dominated
discursive space in regards to so called ‘resource conflicts’ since the end of the Cold War. Theprincipal promoters of this narrative are Collier and Hoeffler who have developed the ‘greed thesis’,
resting on the premise that civil wars are caused by rebel greed rather than grievances. In regards tothis, the aim of this paper is twofold. Through critical review of relevant literature, drawing on post-structuralist theory and discourse analysis, this paper aims to synthesise the critique which has
formed against the ‘greed thesis’ and, ultimately, discredit its validity. However, being aware of that
this topic is discussed
ad infinitum
, the essay furthermore aims to unveil how the ‘blood diamond’
discourse transcends Collier and H
oeffler’s thesis and influences the critique posed against it,
affecting how conflicts are conceptualised, by whom, and by what means they are being dealt with.
Structurally, this paper starts by exploring the ‘blood diamond’ discourse and then proceeds by
 outlining the basic ideas of the greed thesis. The argument is then driven by an examination of thetwo first factions of critique, one based on rational choice theory and one state-centric framework.Through close scrutiny, these groups are systematically critiqued on the basis of being victims of the
‘blood diamond’ discourse. Lastly, a Political Ecology Approach is explored in detail, which
problematizes the diamond-conflict binate, and highlights that the fundamental premises on whichthe greed thesis rest upon are flawed. These findings lead this paper to put forth the main argumentthat it is not diamonds as physical resources which determine the nature of conflict but, rather, theconstructed discourses of diamonds which determine conflict analysis. Linking back to the main issue
of the essentialising nature of the conceptualisation of ‘conflict diamonds’, this argument furtherhighlights that no theory is apolitical and “when any theory so represents itself, it is the more
important to examine it as
an ideology, and to lay bare its concealed perspective” (Cox, 1986).
 
2
Burr argues that “surrounding any one object...
there may be a variety of differentdiscourses, each with a different story to tell about the object in question, a different way orepresenting it to the world
” (
1995:48). In the realm of conflict analysis, a variety of idiosyncraticallyeclectic discourses have been created regarding diamonds, forming a kaleidoscope through whichconflicts are interpreted.
Among these, the ‘blood diamond’
discourse where
“‘conflict’ diamonds
have come to symbolize
the ‘
heart of the mat
ter’ in the ‘heart of darkness’” (Le Billon,
2003:59),have dominated discursive space
in regards to so called ‘resource conflicts’
since the end of the ColdWar. Lahiri-Dutt (2006) attributes this representation to a bewilderment which struck politicaltheorists when forced to recognise that ideology could no longer be blamed for all politicalinstability, and the search started for another scapegoat to mobilise against. Within this discourse,diamonds are interpreted as a source for political instability, which could potentially lead to civil war.The principal promoters of this narrative are Collier and Hoeffler (henceforth C-H) who have
developed the ‘greed thesis’, resting on the premise that civil wars are caused by rebel greed
ratherthan grievances. However, increasing arrays of voices are being raised in opposition to the greedthesis.The aim of this paper is twofold. Firstly, it aims to synthesise the critique which have formedagainst the
‘greed thesis’ and, ultimately,
discredit its validity. However, being aware that this topicis discussed
ad infinitum
, the essay recognises that to make a novel contribution to the field, it needsto go further.
Guided by Bleiker’s claim that the “difference between the represented and its
representation is th
e very location of politics” (2001:510)
, this essay aims to unveil
how the ‘blooddiamond’ discourse transcends C
-
H’s thesis and influences the critique posed
against it, affectinghow conflicts are conceptualised, by whom, and by what means they are being dealt with. Theargumentative point of departure is that it is not diamonds as physical resources which determinethe nature of conflict but, rather, the constructed discourses of diamonds which determine conflictanalysis.
Adopting Burr’s definition of discourse as “a system of statements which constructs anobject” (
1995:48), the case of diamonds has been selected because of the constructed discoursessurrounding it. The reviewed literature is almost exclusively drawn from secondary sources, aconscious choice since the research aim is to investigate how academia is influenced by existingdiscourses and (re)produces them. Given the vastness of the topic, I recognise that there will beliterature which is unintentionally left out. However, the reviewed literature gives, to my knowledge,a fair representation of the different viewpoints and, moreover, deemed useful in demonstrating thestated aims.

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