/ Forschung, Doktorat

Call for Papers: The trouble with the state. Boundaries and Networks in Africa - DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 31 JANUARY 2020

Looking at Democratic Republic of Congo from Rwanda

May 13, 2015 - RUBAVU. Looking at Democratic Republic of Congo from Rwanda. Rwanda. Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

Three consecutive one-day workshops in Freiburg i.Br., Strasbourg and Basel will deal with different aspects of the debate on statehood and the role of trans- and international networks and physical or discursive boundaries. The deadline for submission of papers is 31 Janaury 2020.


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 May 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 (former Head Anti-Corruption, UK Department for International Development), Vincent Foucher (Sciences Po Bordeaux) TBC

Successful applicants can apply for financial support by their university’s EUCOR office for traveling to the respective workshop venues:

Call for abstracts

We welcome abstracts of around 200 words for a proposed paper and presentation. Your abstract should be written in English. In the online application form, please also provide your contact information, key disciplines, institutional affiliation, and a short bio (including previous studies, publications, research interests). Abstracts should speak to the overall theme outlined above and focus on at least one of the following fields:

  • Migration and contested governance of migration
  • Inter- and transnational politics in Africa
  • Borders and border conflicts
  • Transnational social spaces 
  • Methodologies of political network analysis
  • NGOization of statehood
  • Geopolitics and foreign intervention
  • Knowledge transfer between research and policy

Submit your abstract via the online form:

Submission deadline: EXTENDED - 31 January 2019


Pascal Schmid, Centre for African Studies Basel | | +41 61 207 34 82