EUCOR Cross-border Workshop Series: The trouble with the state: Boundaries and Networks in Africa

23. April 2020 - 10:00

The state is a central concept for the study of power, domination, and socio-political change across  the  social  sciences.  Its  usefulness  is however contested (Abrams 1988), especially in African contexts where the Eurocentric ideal-type of the state stands in marked contrast to political realities on the ground. This raises a number  of  crucial  questions:  Through  what concepts can one grasp the prominent role of trans- and international connections, networks, and NGOs that influence what statehood stands for? What is the territoriality of the state in view of  the  importance  of  transnational  social spaces? How are the physical and/or discursive boundaries of states contested, changed, and reenforced in the context of migration? How can general concepts like boundaries and networks advance an understanding of politics that goes beyond  both  Eurocentric  universalism  and Africanist  exceptionalism?  And  what  are  the implications of such theoretical considerations for   development   and   peacebuilding practitioners working in Africa?


To  address  these  timely  questions  among young  researchers  working  on  Africa,  an international consortium of research institutes in Basel, Freiburg im Breisgau, and Strasbourg is organising   three   consecutive   one-day workshops dealing with particular topics in this debate. In each workshop, leading scholars of international standing will present their research and discuss workshop participants’ papers and presentations.  The  workshops  will  provide doctoral   candidates   and   postdoctoral researchers,  as  well  as  outstanding  MA students, with an opportunity for a thematically focused exchange across the fields of political science,  sociology,  history,  African  studies, anthropology, international relations, and peace and  conflict  studies.  The  goal  is  to  advance fresh    analytical    perspectives    and methodological  reflection,  making  links  to concrete cases, and to provide one another with constructive  feedback  on  ongoing  research projects.


I. Contested governance of migration 23. April 2020, 10-18h, Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute (ABI), Freiburg, Germany
Convenors: Andreas Mehler, Franzisca.Zanker (ABI)
Keynote speaker: Thomas Faist (Universität Bielefeld) 

II. National borders and transnational networks 28. April 2020, 10-18h, Sciences Po Strasbourg, France
Convenor: Virginie Roiron (Sciences Po Strasbourg)
Keynote speaker: Mélanie Torrent (Université Picardie Jules Verne) 

III. The trouble with the nation-state. Knowledge production and policy implications in a transnational world 5. Mai 2020, 10-18h, Centre for African Studies Basel (ZASB), Switzerland
Convenors: Claudia Baez-Camargo (Basel Institute on Governance) and Joschka Philipps (swisspeace)
Keynote speakers: Phil Mason (Department for International Development DFID)  Vincent Foucher (Sciences Po Bordeaux) TBC