This panel explores how borderland and frontier regions shape the dynamics of statebuilding, contestation and development, and what this means for aid policy and practice. It focuses on questions of politics, power and history, as well as the crucial role played by brokers in borderland contexts.
This panel explores how borderland and frontier regions shape the dynamics of statebuilding, contestation and development, and what this means for aid policy and practice. Borderlands and frontiers are classically viewed as exemplars of 'maldevelopment' and exporters of insecurity, terrorism and illegal commodities. Celebratory accounts of a global decline in armed conflict and decreasing levels of poverty, ring hollow in many of today's borderlands in the Global South. Conflict reduction and development policies are simply not working in many of these cases, and may in fact be part of the problem. This panel critiques existing development theory and policy which has tended to suffer from 'borderland blindness'. While recent political economy and political settlements literature has focused attention on questions to do with conflict, power and resources, this work suffers from 'methodological nationalism', viewing statebuilding as a top down exercise in the diffusion of power outwards from centre to periphery. The panel explores an alternative perspective, viewing development and statebuilding processes from the vantage point of the state margins, drawing attention to the specific dynamics of politics, power and history in these regions. It explores the role played by peripheral elites or brokers in shaping access to power and resources) through mediating across diverse regulatory regimes and political institutions. The panel aims to generate fresh theoretical insights from the comparative analysis of borderland and frontier regions across a range of settings in the Global South.