chapter  10
20 Pages

Twisted legitimacy?

Leadership, representation, and status in traditional and fragile societies
ByJacqueline Wilson

Although the concept of legitimacy is generally linked to the role of a state and state institutions, fragility and violence may facilitate unexpected sources and manifestations of legitimacy. This chapter introduces the concept of ‘twisted’ legitimacy, whereby legitimacy is conveyed to or claimed by non-state actors, and legitimacy may actually be used for malign intentions rather than on behalf of the common good. It proposes that the concept of legitimacy may have very different meaning in fragile contexts, and explores twisted legitimacy in greater depth within two case studies, one of Nuer prophets in South Sudan, and a second within a changing community of Bedouins in Egypt. It concludes that practitioners/scholars require a more nuanced understanding of legitimacy for more successful peacebuilding efforts in fragile or violent contexts.