This panel links issues of collective identities and political authority to debates about place and scale. It invites papers that interrogate the interplay between statutory territorial entities, geographical patterns of (under)development and collective identities in the structuring of conflicts.
Half a century after independence from colonial rule, issues of territorial demarcation, political identity and locus of authority remain deeply contested in most African countries. These matters continue to generate conflicts around constitutive features of states and nations and remain at the heart of political struggles in many societies, even in countries with relatively consolidated boundaries. In addition, regional and global processes are reshaping notions of the relevant and legitimate scale(s) of territory and community. The aim of this panel is to link issues of formation of collective identities and institutionalised political authority to the debates about the relational character of place and scale. Groups and individuals relate to the central state in different ways, drawing on contested version of territorial and social demarcations. The central state, on its part, endorses certain forms of mobilisation around territory and community, while blocking others. What are the key factors in the interplay between statutory territorial entities, geographical patterns of social and economic (under)development and collective identities in promoting or preventing conflict? How have notions of community been shaped by historical trajectories, and what are the impacts of this for political inclusion/exclusion, representation and authority? This panel seeks to interrogate these issues by examining cases from across the continent. It welcomes both theoretical and empirical contributions. Comparative efforts, be it through empirical cases or theoretical arguments, are particularly appreciated.