A Spatial Theory of Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lance Hadley | BIG Research Reports | #57

The state as a territorially homogenous container for sovereign power is typically utilized as a conceptual frame of analysis in intrastate conflict. However, observations of the territorial distribution of conflict in post-colonial weak states suggest geographic clustering in borderland territories. Especially in the Sub-Saharan African context, borders, despite the permeability and the arbitrariness appear to be a strategic territorial resource for alternative agents of sovereignty. While recent quantitative exploratory scholarship has suggested the significance of peripheral borderlands to intrastate war, little discussion has attempted to develop a formal theoretical framework (Buhaug 2010; Buhaug and Rød 2006; Buhaug and Lujala 2005) Combining a decade of empirical conflict observations from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) with an adaptation of Kenneth Boulding’s Loss of Strength Gradient (Boulding 1962), this paper attempts to develop a qualitative framework of state power that accounts for the spatial distribution of civil conflicts within states; or, why state power is often challenged in Africa’s borderlands. Select case comparisons are employed to explore this framework and suggest that borderlands in weak states are often spatially located where alternative sites of power can opportunistically challenge state sovereignty. Exploring the strategic importance of borderland areas, this paper seeks to elevate the discursively marginalized territory of state peripheries to the priority of developing states and the international development and security community.

Lance Hadley

A Spatial Theory of Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa

Determinants of Civil Conflict in Africa: Borders as Political Resources

Lance Hadley | BIG Research Reports | #58

Contemporary spatial research on civil conflict in Africa has largely focused on borders and the state periphery as spaces of limited political and economic opportunity. These studies largely adopt approaches that present borderland citizens as operating in structurally desolate spaces of poor governance, economic opportunity and political inclusion. While spatial analyses are permitting unprecedented focus on borderland structures, causal mechanisms that explain how the geographic opportunities present from nearby international borders inform strategies of rebellion remain undeveloped. To explore this, this paper repositions the socio-economic processes in the borderlands as the central unit of analysis. In particular, this paper conceptualizes international borders as a political resource that is exploited by borderland groups to access unregulated ‘in’ and ‘out-flows’ of strategic capacity. This access to alternative strategic capacities is hypothesized to provide the opportunity for border citizens to challenge structural grievances and attempt alternative (if unlawful) governance structures within the borderlands. Lastly, this paper concludes with a spatial theory of conflict specific to Africa’s borderlands whereby relative distances from the state capital, in combination with weak state capacity, creates sites of competing power structures and ultimately violent civil conflict.

Lance Hadley

Determinants of Civil Conflict in Africa: Borders as Political Resources

Graduate Research Assistant

Matt Britton

Borders in Globalization | 21st Century Borders

Matt Britton is Graduate Research Assistant for the Borders in Globalization program and a student in the Master of Public Administration program at the University of Victoria. Originally from the United States, he has lived in eight different countries over the past two decades.

After graduating from the University of Tulsa with a BFA in graphic design and printmaking, Matt worked as a Health Education Volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Mauritania, West Africa, and then joined the U.S. Foreign Service and served as a diplomat in Papua New Guinea, El Salvador, and Burundi. As a stay-at-home father in Brazil, he also volunteered with the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Prior to commencing the MPA program, Matt managed a nonprofit organization called WorldDenver for six years, overseeing international exchange and education programs. He has taught classes at the Akilah Institute for Women in Bujumbura, Burundi, and the University of Denver in Colorado, USA.

Matt Britton

CFGS Global Talk — Whatever happened to our borderless world? An anarchist rethinking of the ‘open borders’ debate

with Dr. Nick Megoran (Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Global Studies and Borders in Globalization, University of Victoria) | Victoria, BC & Zoom | November 8, 2023

In Person: CFGS C168 (Sedgewick building, University of Victoria) or Zoom. The meeting will take place from 10:30am to 12pm PST. Register in advance for this meeting here. Registration is free but required.

In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, some writers declared that humanity was on the verge of a ‘borderless world.’ Yet three decades later, the world is more fenced and bordered than ever. In response, many scholars and activists have restated the moral and political case for ‘Open Borders.’ How persuasive are these arguments, and do they help us think through what better borderlands might look like? This talk will draw on anarchist traditions in political theology, as well as the author’s own research in various borderlands, to open a broader discussion of borders in the world today.

Dr. Nick Megoran is a Professor of Political Geography at Newcastle University, England. His research considers what it means to value human life in sites as diverse as international borderlands and the neoliberal workplace. He has studied the Uzbek-Kyrgyz and Danish-German borderlands for nearly three decades, and is interested in how critical geopolitical theory and African-American political theology can help us think through how borders can become places in which human life thrives. His publications include Nationalism in Central Asia: A Biography of the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan Boundary (Pittsburgh, 2017) and Big Questions in An Age of Global Crises (Wipf & Stock, 2022).

CFGS Global Talk — Whatever happened to our borderless world? An anarchist rethinking of the ‘open borders’ debate

#22 BIG Podcast – “Nepal-India Border, Minorities and Cross-Border Networks”

featuring Kalpana Jha, Analyst and Researcher at the University of Victoria, BIG Graduate Student Fellow (PhD)

Country of 27 million inhabitants, in the Himalayan mountain range, Nepal shares a border with India for 1,690 km and with China for nearly 1,200 km. The majority of the inhabitants live in the south of the country (along the Indo-Nepalese border) and in the Kathmandu valley. Nepal became a republic in 2008 and the country adopted a new Constitution in 2015 which provides for a federal-type state, organized around 7 provinces which have their own assembly and executive power. This episode focuses on the State of Nepal, internal bordering processes, the marginalized people at its borders, notably the Madhesi People, and also relations with India and China.

Listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and YouTube!

Kalpana Jha is a BIG Graduate Student Fellow and the author of “The Madhesi Upsurge and the Contested Idea of Nepal”. She is currently a board member on the Nepal Policy Institute (NPI) – an international policy think tank. Jha is an alumni as  well as former research fellow from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India. She also holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from TISS-Mumbai and a Master’s in Socio-legal studies from York University, Canada. Jha has worked extensively on identity issues, citizenship in Madhes and minorities and their status in Nepal and India. Jha has multiple publications including journal articles, book chapters, reports, newspaper articles and commentaries in the field of identity, citizenship, gender and borders. She has also worked in the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi, India as a Regional and internal security intern. Jha was a former researcher at Martin Chautari and worked on a comparative study on Borderlands, Brokers and Peacebuilding in Nepal and Sri Lanka, commissioned by School of Oriental and African Studies, London, to Martin Chautari, in Nepal. She has also worked formerly in research foundations such as Social Science Baha in Nepal and Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi, India.

#22 BIG Podcast – “Nepal-India Border, Minorities and Cross-Border Networks”

Graduate Student Fellow (PhD)

Kalpana Jha

Borders in Globalization | Jean Monnet Network

Kalpana Jha is a BIG Graduate Student Fellow and the author of “The Madhesi Upsurge and the Contested Idea of Nepal”. She is currently a board member on the Nepal Policy Institute (NPI) – an international policy think tank. Jha is an alumni as  well as former research fellow from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India. She also holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from TISS-Mumbai and a Master’s in Socio-legal studies from York University, Canada. Jha has worked extensively on identity issues, citizenship in Madhes and minorities and their status in Nepal and India. Jha has multiple publications including journal articles, book chapters, reports, newspaper articles and commentaries in the field of identity, citizenship, gender and borders. She has also worked in the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi, India as a Regional and internal security intern. Jha was a former researcher at Martin Chautari and worked on a comparative study on Borderlands, Brokers and Peacebuilding in Nepal and Sri Lanka, commissioned by School of Oriental and African Studies, London, to Martin Chautari, in Nepal. She has also worked formerly in research foundations such as Social Science Baha in Nepal and Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi, India.

Jha’s PhD thesis will be focused on studying Borders and bordering processes between Nepal and India. The study will explore the local cross-border networks that exists at individual and institutional level. Primarily this research will be engaging with the narratives around the changing nature of border and how local networks shape everyday bordering processes. Jha’s research seeks to trace what kind of networks exists but also how do these networks function in determining the nature of the openness of the border. Her research, embedded in the critical border studies that sees the border beyond a geographical line that divides territories but acts as a space of interaction, a bridge that brings together geographies, people and cultures.

Kalpana Jha

#16 BIG Podcast – “Popular Protest, the Middle East and Borders”

featuring Michael J. Carpenter – Political Scientist at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada, and Managing Editor of BIG Review

The Middle East is the name of a complex geographical region comprising different countries and cultures between Europe, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Asia. It is also a space where many conflicts have existed and continue to exist today, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These disputes linked to a complex historical, religious and political situation should not obscure the presence of populations who struggle at their level and with their means against the domination that oppresses them. One thinks of the situation in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip and the difficult conditions of the inhabitants. We will discuss this territorial, border, human complexity with political scientist Michael J. Carpenter. He has written a book titled “Palestinian Popular Struggle: Unarmed and Participatory” (Routledge 2019).

Michael J. Carpenter is a Post-Doctoral Fellow working on a project titled, “Beyond ‘Irregular Migration’: Civil Disobedience without Borders”. In addition to his fellowship, Michael also serves as a founding member and current Managing Editor of the Borders in Globalization Review. He has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Victoria (2017) and a Master of Arts in Social and Political Thought from the University of Regina (2009). His research interests include borders, Middle East politics, global politics, civil resistance, non-state governance, and the history of social and political thought. He recently completed two publications based on his doctoral research, a monograph titled Palestinian Popular Struggle: Unarmed and Participatory, and a chapter called “Peace Process without the People: Sidelining Popular Struggle in Palestine” for an edited volume called the History of World Peace Since 1750 (both Routledge, forthcoming).

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and the Podcast App!

#16 BIG Podcast - “Popular Protest, the Middle East and Borders”

Borders and Migration: The Canadian Experience in Comparative Perspective

Michael J. Carpenter, Melissa Kelly, Oliver Schmidtke | University of Ottawa Press | 2023

Since 2015, the cross-border movement of migrants and refugees has reached unprecedented levels. War, persecution, destitution, and desertification impelled millions to flee their homes in central Asia, the Levant, and North Africa. The responses in the Global North varied country by country, with some opening their borders to historically large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers, while others adopted increasingly strict border policies.

The dramatic increase in global migration has triggered controversial political and scholarly debates. The governance of cross-border mobility constitutes one of the key policy conundrums of the 21st century, raising fundamental questions about human rights, state responsibility, and security. The research literatures on borders and migration have rapidly expanded to meet the increased urgency of record numbers of displaced people. Yet, border studies have conventionally paid little attention to flows of people, and migration studies have simultaneously underappreciated the changing nature of borders.

Borders and Migration: The Canadian Experience in Comparative Perspective provides new insights into how migration is affected by border governance and vice versa. Starting from the Canadian experience, and with an emphasis on refugees and irregular migrants, this multidisciplinary book explores how various levels of governance have facilitated and restricted flows of people across international borders. The book sheds light on the changing governance of migration and borders. Comparisons between Canada and other parts of the world bring into relief contemporary trends and challenges.

Editors:

Michael J. Carpenter is a Post-Doctoral Fellow working on a project titled, “Beyond ‘Irregular Migration’: Civil Disobedience without Borders”. In addition to his fellowship, Michael also serves as a founding member and current Managing Editor of the Borders in Globalization Review.

Melissa Kelly is a Research Fellow with the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at Ryerson University. She holds a PhD in Social and Economic Geography from Uppsala University.

Oliver Schmidtke is a Professor and UVic European Studies Scholar in the Departments of History and Political Science. Since 2006 he holds the Jean Monnet Chair in European History and Politics. From 2005 to 2008 he was the Director of the European Studies Program at UVic and from 2004 to 2006 he served as the President of the European Community Studies Association Canada. Since 2012 he has been the Director of the Centre for Global Studies and during the academic year 2016-17 he serves as the Acting Vice President Research.

Borders and Migration: The Canadian Experience in Comparative Perspective

Nihon no Kyokai: Kokka to hitobito no sokoku (Japan’s Borders: For State or People)

Hyunjoo Naomi Chi, Edward Boyle | Hokkaido University Press | 2022

Featuring an Introduction co-written with Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly (BIG Project Director), this volume is the outcome of a BIG Workshop held at Hokkaido University in April 2018, bringing Japanese and foreign researchers together to reflect upon the history and specificities of Japan’s contemporary border regime. Published on December 25th, 2022.

Editors:

Edward Boyle is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law and the Center for Asia-Pacific Future Studies. He holds a BA from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and an MA from the Faculty of Law at Hokkaido University, where he is also in the process of completing his doctorate. Currently, he is charged with the task of establishing Japan’s first interdisciplinary Center for Border Studies at Kyushu University.

Hyunjoo Naomi Chi is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Public Policy, Hokkaido University. She holds a BA from the University of British Columbia.

Nihon no Kyokai: Kokka to hitobito no sokoku (Japan's Borders: For State or People)

Special Section: Patterns in Border Security: Regional Comparisons

Commonwealth & Comparative Politics | Volume 59, Issue 4 | 2021

This special issue of Commonwealth & Comparative Politics raises the prospect of trust-based determinants of security communities other than cultural similarity. The case studies in this special issue document the emergence of cross-border and transgovernmental policy and enforcement networks that facilitate policy development, implementation and alignment through coordination, cooperation, and collaboration: nascent communities coordinate, ascendant communities coordinate and cooperate but struggle to collaborate, while mature communities coordinate, cooperate, and collaborate. Specifically, pluralistic forms of communication and interactions away from the actual borderline seem to play a key role in the emergence of friendly and trustful relationships among border dyads that need not necessarily be contiguous.

Contents

Foreword by Kunio Mikuriya

Introduction by Christian Leuprecht, Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, Todd Hataley & Tim Legrand

The United States–Canada security community: a case study in mature border management by Christian Leuprecht, Todd Hataley, Kelly Sundberg, Keith Cozine & Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly

Security beyond the border: exploring Australia and New Zealand trans-Tasman relations in a globalised world by Jamie Ferrill, Germana Nicklin, Tim Legrand & Haydn McComas

The European Union’s model of Integrated Border Management: preventing transnational threats, cross-border crime and irregular migration in the context of the EU’s security policies and strategies by Johann Wagner

Between triple borders: border security across Latin America’s Southern Cone by Adriana Dorfman, Rafael Francisco França & Julian Mokwa Felix

Border security management in the MENA region: models of nascent and ascendant coordination and cooperation by Daniel Meier

Border security in Africa: the paradigmatic case of the Sahel as the embodiment of security and economy in borderlands by Thomas Cantens

So similar yet so distant: border security management between India and Pakistan as a laboratory of non-experimentation by Dhananjay Tripathi

Funding

This work was supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada [895-2012-1022].

Special Section: Patterns in Border Security: Regional Comparisons