The trouble with the state. Boundaries and Networks in Africa

EUCOR cross-border workshop series 
25 October, 2 November & 9 November 2021


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, 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 re-enforced 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 half-day online workshops dealing with particular topics in this debate. The workshops will provide doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers, as well as advanced 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.

Part 1: Consolidated or undermined statehood? The transnationalisation of state legitimacy

Date and Time: 25 October 2021, 09.15am – 12.45pm

Host: Virginie Roiron (Sciences Po Strasbourg)

Keynote: Amber Murrey (University of Oxford)

Research presentations:

  • John Githigaro: An Assessment of Claim making on Kenya-Somalia Maritime Dispute
  • Barbara Müller:  NGOs, political parties and the student movement in Zimbabwe
  • Federico Carducci: Religious networks and political legitimation in post-war Angola
  • Paula Sophia Branco de Lima: What is national in transnational feminist activism? Perceptions on the World March of Women's action in Brazil and Mozambique

Part 2: Contested migration governance and borders

Date and Time: 2 November 2021, 09.15am – 12.45pm

Hosts: Andreas Mehler and Franzisca Zanker (Arnold Bergstraesser Institute)

Keynote: Thomas Faist (Universität Bielefeld)

Research presentations:

  • Leonie Jegen: Sovereignty and External Actors in Migration Policies in Niger and Senegal
  • Patrick Dieudonné Belinga Ondoua : Flux migratoires internes au Cameroun et subjectivation politique par la suspicion dans la ville de Yaoundé
  • Grace Atuhaire: State Securitization of Border Communities in Africa
Part 3: The trouble with the nation-state. Knowledge production and policy implications in a transnational world

Date and Time: 9 November 2021, 09.15am – 12.45pm

Hosts: Claudia Baez-Camargo (Basel Institute on Governance), Joschka Philipps (University of Bayreuth) and Pascal Schmid (Centre for African Studies Basel)

Keynote: Vincent Foucher (Sciences Po Bordeaux)

Research presentations:

  • Toon Dirkx: The Remnants of Rebellion: The Legacy of the EPLF’s Wartime Governance in Post-Independent Eritrea
  • Saïkou Sagnane: L’état transnational dans la lutte contre Ebola & Covid-19 en Guinée 
  • Emmaculate Asige Liaga: Post-conflict [intervention] Statehood of South Sudan to Basel day
  • Franziska Ehlert: Exploring Contestation of Security Sector Reform Processes: The Case of Côte d'Ivoire

The workshops take place online via Zoom. If you are interested in participating, please register in order to receive the Zoom link and detailed programme.

ECTS Credits

The workshop series is listed in the course directory of the University of Basel. PhD candidates and students at the University of Basel can register for the course via MOnA (course no. 58325-01). Active participation in all three workshops is awarded with 1 ECTS credit.