Accepted paper:

A Potemkin State in the Sahel? Travails Construction and Reconstruction in Mali


Pierre Englebert (Pomona College)

Paper short abstract:

We look at the difficulties of post-conflict reconstruction in Mali and put them in the perspective of long-term state construction problems for the country. We argue that Mali might not be a viable state and seek to understand who benefits and how from the current "reconstruction" efforts.

Paper long abstract:

It is often argued that Mali experienced a significant decline in governance and state capacity in the wake of its democratization in the 1990s which, combined with rising Tuareg secessionism and Islamist terror in the region in the wake of Qaddafi's overthrow in Libya in 2011, led to the breakdown of the Malian state in 2012. In this paper, we take a longer-term perspective and inquire to what extent Mali's weaknesses go back to its origins as a sovereign state in 1960 and whether it ever had the prerequisites for functional statehood in terms of territorial control, extractive capacity, governance or public service provision. We then question the extent to which current donor- and UN-sponsored reconstruction policies address Mali's fundamental weaknesses or reproduce them and discuss the implications of our argument and findings with respect to Mali's continued existence.

panel P054
Political Representation in Fragile and Transitional States