Region-building, regional order and regionalization in Africa

Seminar date: 
07 May 2009
Speaker(s): Daniel Bach

Daniel Bach is a professorial Fellow at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique(CNRS) and a professor at Sciences Po Bordeaux. He holds the Diplome d'Habiliation à Diriger des Recherches (Bordeaux I University), a D.Phil from Oxford University, a DES from Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) University and a Diploma of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques of Grenoble II university. He has taught at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife-Ife (Nigeria), the University of Montréal, ISCTE in Lisbon, Boston University and Ritsumeikan University. A former Director of CEAN, he was a Deakin Fellow at St Antony's College , Oxford, and a Fulbright scholar (Boston University), and Fellow of the Indian Council for Social Studies Research (ICSSR) at Jawaharal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi.. He is currently Senior Scientist of the European network of excellence GARNET (" Global Governance, Regionalisation and Regulation: The Role of the EU") at Sciences Po Bordeaux. He has published on the political economy of Nigerian federalism ; the foreign policies of Nigeria and South Africa ; regionalism, regional institutions and the regionalisation processes in Africa ; the interactions between Africa's regionalization processes and the globalization of the world economy; various aspects of relations between France, the European Union, China and Africa. He is preparing on a book on Africa and international relations theory.

Discussant: Klaas van Walraven

Africa illustrates, in an emblematic manner, the disentanglement of a number of common assumptions concerning interactions between integration, regionalism and regionalization. This can be translated into a new awareness of the empirical and theoretical significance of unconventional trajectories previously treated as asymptomatic and, especially in Africa, as largely irrelevant.

There is an operational distinction between regionalism as a cognitive or state-centric project and regionalization as a de facto process. Regionalism in Africa only refers to sovereignty pooling whenever idiosyncratic international regimes dating back to the colonial period have survived, as illustrated by the CFA currency zone or the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU). In both cases, integration through hysteresis goes along with the formally endorsed domination of a core state, France in the first case, South Africa in the second.

Regionalization draws much of its flavour and stamina from the permeation of state and corporate policies by socio-ethnic or religious networks of transstate interactions that owe their success or failure to the ability to straddle norms and spaces. Transstate networks combine characteristics traditionally dissociated. The combination of features associated with trans-national and inter-state relations results from the porosity of borders, weak state territorial control and the spread of insecurity and violence as much as from the conversion of corporate and public functions into private sources of gain by those in control of or endowed with authority. Neo-patrimonialism and the transstate networks that it contributes to nurture stimulate patterns of regionalization that carry deeply ambivalent implications for the daily lives of large numbers of people.

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