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‘Localizing’ the state: interrogating state formation in and from secondary cities in Africa 
Didier Péclard (University of Geneva)
Stephanie Perazzone (University of Geneva)
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Didier Péclard (University of Geneva)
Stephanie Perazzone (University of Geneva)
Politics and International Relations (x) Violence and Conflict Resolution (y)
Philosophikum, S94
Saturday 3 June, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

This panel focuses on dynamics of state formation in secondary cities in Africa, looking at how public authority is (re)negotiated on a daily basis. It thereby seeks to ‘localize’ state theorizing efforts within the fast-changing realities of ‘booming’ urban centers in the Global South.

Long Abstract:

Secondary cities have largely remained 'off the map’ (Robinson) within African and urban studies. The latter focused indeed mostly on the role of African capital-cities and metropolises in shaping globalization processes. However, emerging urban centers, predicted to absorb the majority of urban demographic growth in Africa over the coming decades, are now attracting renewed interest within both academic and policy circles. This panel proposes to contribute to this burgeoning scholarship by looking at how the politics of public authority are (re)negotiated in secondary African cities. It thereby seeks to re-situate – or ‘localize’ – state theorizing efforts within the fast-changing and layered realities of ‘booming’ urban centers in the Global South.

As these urban centers grow, issues of land dispute, insecurity, infrastructural scarcity, and a chronic lack of public services increase, while central state and government institutions are contested, evanescent or only indirectly present. This is particularly challenging in situations of violent and societal conflict. Who ‘enacts’ public authority on a daily basis? What is the influence of (local, national and international) NGOs, ‘traditional’ and religious authorities, especially in accessing property against the backdrop of soaring land prices? What is the role of (former) armed groups in security provision? How do ‘secondary’ cities become privileged arenas for societal innovation, political tension, or state transformation?

This panel welcomes papers that, addressing these and other issues, offer fine-grained understandings of the daily politics of state authority in secondary cities, as well as contributions critically engaging with the concept of ‘secondary cities’ itself.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -
Session 2 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -