The panel explores multipolarity through the nature of political power in Africa, characterised by state and non-state actors. Panellists are encouraged to question how new states operate in this already multipolar arena and how this arena is simultaneously reconfigurated in the process.
Discussions on the shifts to balances of power in Africa and how these can affect the future of the continent both in its political and economic structuring have been centred on the introduction of new players. The rise of new powers and their interest for commercial and military relations with Africa, it is argued, can have both positive and negative effects. However, it seems that these debates have focused on state relations, failing to account for the important role non-state actors have in the making and remaking of the political space where these new actors operate. Through much of African colonial and post-colonial history, power has not been structured around the relations between powers or states. Rather, power has been structured across shared sovereignties, ambiguous boundaries and non-state actors. This panel aims to explore how multipolarity faces this rich and ambiguous space of African politics. Papers will explore the interconnection of processes such as war, commercial exchanges or authority consolidation, and actors, such as new powers, MNCs, NGOs, diasporas, militias and ethnic communities.