Accepted paper:

Legitimation as spatialized practice: state-like territoriality in rural Tanzania


Kathy Dodworth (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Public authority demands the legitimation of power in the everyday. This paper looks at two spatial manifestations of (state) legitimation, extensity and territoriality, as well as rural residents' roles in the state formation process, whether that of co-production, collaboration or contestation.

Paper long abstract:

Public authority, in the classical Weberian sense, is the legitimated exercise of power that seeks forms of behaviour or compliance (1968; also Bulkeley 2012; Lake 2010; Lund 2006), as part of the will to govern. What, empirically does such legitimation consist of in the everyday? In responding to this question, this paper first theorizes legitimation as spatialized practice: the accumulative making of claims. Such claims are appraised, negotiated and contested by their intended audiences at various scales. Secondly, it examines legitimation practices on the part of government and non-governmental actors in one remote ward in coastal Tanzania, as they operate in the margins between global and local; national/international; public/private and indeed state/non-state. In doing so, this paper brings two particularly spatialized practices to the fore: 'extensity' and 'territoriality'. Extensity comprised state-like claims to be present at scale and in depth in all areas of the district, often via local representatives. Countervailing extensity, however, comprised more territorialized practices in constructing and maintaining an exclusionary 'turf' (Sikor & Lund 2009, p14) or 'terrain' (Elden 2010). Both of these practices have local residents at their core, whether through relations of co-production, collaboration or contestation vis-à-vis state formation. The paper explores how territoriality and extensity, whilst assumed more congruous at the level of the state, are not necessarily so at sub-national levels. They are characterized by different practices, actors and symbolic capital in crafting the space to govern in rural Tanzania.

panel Pol11
Relocating the state in rural Africa