The duration and low intensity of the separatist conflict in Casamance, Senegal, find some explanation in the balance of forces and geopolitical context. Primarily, however, it can be explained through the ambivalent relationship between the most separatist part of Casamance, the one peopled by ethnic Diola, and the state. This is not a story of insurmountable distance but of a proximity forged in the 1950s through formal education, migration, and state employment. Both this connection and the state itself faced crisis in the 1970s. Members of Diola literati then reshaped an earlier elite regionalism with a mounting cultural pride to search for a state of their own. Still, the Senegalese state survived and revamped its relationship to the Diola, explaining the present lull in violence.