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Emerging Forms of Power in two African Borderlands: A Theoretical and Empirical Research Outline

Thomas Hüsken, Georg Klute


The transformation of statehood is a frequently debated topic in studies dealing with globalization. This is particularly true with regard to the African continent; here, the “building” of the nationstate has been confronted, more than anywhere else, with a number of challenges. At times and in certain areas, state structures even collapsed, and thus transformed contemporary Africa into the symbol of state failure. In particular the peripheries and borderlands of many post-colonial states in Africa contribute to the emergence of local stateless forms of power, which seem to suggest the end of the globalized statehood utopia. Are these new forms of political organization only a reaction to uncertainty caused by the weakness or even the absence of state structures? Will these orders be able to substitute the State in the long run? Or are global processes confronted with persisting local representations and practises of order and rule, indicating that stateless societies can resist the overwhelming power of the “Leviathan”? Can the longevity of local political models lead to the transformation of the state as the only and unique model of organised power? Or do they foreshadow a specific form of interlacement between non-state actors and the state that will lead to heterarchical political settings in Africa and elsewhere? And finally: in which respect do borderland-situations contribute to these processes?

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
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