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Negotiating statehood: dynamics of power and domination in Africa


Hagmann, T; Péclard, D (2010). Negotiating statehood: dynamics of power and domination in Africa. Development and Change, 41(4):539-562.

Abstract

This article, which forms the introduction to a collection of studies, focuses on processes of state construction and deconstruction in contemporary Africa. Its objective is to better understand how local, national and transnational ac- tors forge and remake the state through processes of negotiation, contestation and bricolage. Following a critique of the predominant state failure literature and its normative and analytical shortcomings, the authors identify four key arguments of the scholarly literature on the state in Africa, which concern the historicity of the state in Africa, the embeddedness of bureaucratic orga- nizations in society, the symbolic and material dimensions of statehood and the importance of legitimacy. A heuristic framework entitled ‘negotiating statehood’ is proposed, referring to the dynamic and partly undetermined processes of state formation and failure by a multitude of social actors who compete over the institutionalization of power relations. The article then operationalizes this framework in three sections that partly conceptualize, partly illustrate who negotiates statehood in contemporary Africa (actors, resources and repertoires); where these negotiation processes occur (negoti- ation arenas and tables); and what these processes are all about (objects of negotiation). Empirical examples drawn from a variety of political contexts across the African continent illustrate these propositions.

Abstract

This article, which forms the introduction to a collection of studies, focuses on processes of state construction and deconstruction in contemporary Africa. Its objective is to better understand how local, national and transnational ac- tors forge and remake the state through processes of negotiation, contestation and bricolage. Following a critique of the predominant state failure literature and its normative and analytical shortcomings, the authors identify four key arguments of the scholarly literature on the state in Africa, which concern the historicity of the state in Africa, the embeddedness of bureaucratic orga- nizations in society, the symbolic and material dimensions of statehood and the importance of legitimacy. A heuristic framework entitled ‘negotiating statehood’ is proposed, referring to the dynamic and partly undetermined processes of state formation and failure by a multitude of social actors who compete over the institutionalization of power relations. The article then operationalizes this framework in three sections that partly conceptualize, partly illustrate who negotiates statehood in contemporary Africa (actors, resources and repertoires); where these negotiation processes occur (negoti- ation arenas and tables); and what these processes are all about (objects of negotiation). Empirical examples drawn from a variety of political contexts across the African continent illustrate these propositions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:July 2010
Deposited On:01 Nov 2010 12:29
Last Modified:14 Sep 2016 13:43
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0012-155X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7660.2010.01656.x

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