Pol11
Relocating the state in rural Africa

Convenors:
Sabine Planel (IRD)
Florence Brisset-Foucault (IMAF)
Stream:
Politics and International Relations
Location:
Appleton Tower, Room M1
Wednesday 12 June, 14:15-16:00

Short abstract:

Rural dwellers act as citizens and contribute to State formation. We seek to examine the evolutive and localised dimension of State power in rural areas: what have been the local social forces that have been driving its formation? What is the endogenous basis for the politicization of rural places?

Long abstract:

The presence of the State in rural Africa cannot be reduced to central governments' capacity or willingness to cover the national territory: endogenous social dimensions must be considered. Rural dwellers act as citizens and contribute to State formation, nowadays and before. We seek to document the social and material foundations of the presence and the forms of the State in rural contexts: what are the local social forces that have been driving its formation? What is the endogenous basis of the politicization of rural places? To what extent and under which social conditions or agrarian contexts are they connected to the central State? We invite contributors to study the changing/historical and localised dimension of State power in rural areas. We intend to question some stereotypes associated to rural African spaces. May they be considered as a-political we then invite to unravel various modalities of their politicisation (past or present); may they be considered as the origin of a democratic tradition, or as the cradle of authoritarianism, we encourage to examine the localised dimensions of political control and dissent. This panel addresses the scalar dimension of political spaces, their cross relationships, their embeddedness or mutual exclusion. It will observe resistances and local adaptations to cope with the State, to take advantage of its presence/resources or to escape from its authority. Against top-down, homogenising narratives, we welcome deeply empirically informed contributions on different dimensions of the formation of the State and the politicisation of rural places: social, moral and economic.