Lecture Didier Péclard: Negotiating statehood.

16-03-2018 van 10:00 tot 11:30
Paddenhoek 1, 9000 Gent, lokaal 1.3
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Debates in Conflict & Development: rethinking statehood & governance

Lecture Didier Péclard: Negotiating statehood.


Debates about the state in Africa over the past 20 years have been dominated by the question of its relative "strength" or "weakness". This was (is) particularly the case in discourses about state failure, collapse or decay that have held a dominant position in the field, especially in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. The problem with such narratives is that they are grounded in a very normative understanding of the state. They also tend to offer a very linear if not teleological perspective on state formation. As a consequence, the study of the state in Africa often refers to what it is not (or how it differs from the "norm") rather than focusing on what it actually is and how it works. In this talk, drawing on the historical and political sociology of the state in Africa, I will discuss state formation as a historical process of negotiation between a variety of actors and as the product (rather than the victim) of (violent and non-violent) conflicts.


Didier Péclard is a Senior lecturer in Political science and Director of the Master’s in African Studies at the University of Geneva. He holds a PhD from SciencesPo Paris (2005), and is an associate researcher with the Swiss Peace Foundation (swisspeace). He was guest professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2012-2013. His research interests include religion and politics, nationalism, civil wars and peacebuilding, as well as the dynamics of state formation in Africa. He is the co-author (with Tobias Hagmann) of Negotiating Statehood. Dynamics of Power and Domination in Africa (2011) and author of Les incertitudes de la nation en Angola (2015), among other. In his current research work, he looks at state formation dynamics in Africa from two perspectives: by studying the way in which civil wars contribute to the institutionalization of power relations, and by analyzing the (renewed) role of the state as a development actor in the post-Washington consensus context. He is the co-editor of the journal Politique africaine.