The public sphere and the construction of peace narratives in Angola : from the bicesse accords to the death of Savimbi
This thesis sets out to examine five separate arenas within the Angolan public sphere, and investigate their contribution to peace discourse. The five arenas are: the Angolan churches, private media, civil society organisations, community based material and traditional authority. The objective of this thesis is to highlight these discourses, and to investigate their importance to Angolans as arenas of peace engagement. These peace discourses have remained poorly developed or ignored within the Angolan literature. Collectively, these five discourses offer a perspective `from below' on peace and conflict in Angola, and are analysed within a Habermasian public sphere framework. The thesis argues that many Angolans have been critical of the various peace processes, seen as agreements between the militarised elements of Angolan society. The exclusion of national civic forces from these agreements, such as the churches and civil society, is regarded as a reason for the failure of the Bicesse and Lusaka peace agreements. The thesis sets out criticism of international mediation efforts, interpreted in some arenas as an obstacle in the search for peace, because economic interests were seen as taking priority. By focusing on oft excluded actors, an emphasis is placed on Angolan `agency' in favour of peace, demonstrating significant Angolan peace engagement throughout the years of conflict. The thesis also underlines the importance of addressing traditional and cultural issues in understanding the causes of the Angolan war, and in developing new approaches to building peace. Simultaneously, another finding concerns the fundamental role Angolan history has played in shaping the Angolan public sphere, and how this impacted negatively on the ability of Angolans to organise collectively and address peace issues.