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Turning the Coin: State Failure, War and the Creation of Stateness

Africa
Conflict
Development
International Relations
Security
Third World Politics
Karl Hampel
Universität St Gallen
Karl Hampel
Universität St Gallen

Abstract

Scholars concerned with state-formation, specifically it’s relation to war, hold one of two positions. Some follow Tilly's conclusion that war is decisive for the creation of stateness and clarify concepts in order to explain presumed discrepancies between past and present. Others point towards the international sphere and advocate a ‘war breaks states’ perspective. I argue that both angles neglect the ‘sub-national’ level. Whilst proponents of the ‘war breaks states’ thesis are missing parasovereign zones of rule, supporters of the ‘war makes states’ approach submit to a juridical view of statehood by focusing on ‘state strength’. The failed states paradigm conceals the role of ‘locality’. Discussing shortcomings of failed states approaches and state-formation theorising, I propose a conceptualisation in terms of socio-political variation instead of a dichotomisation of order. Based on the Malian case, conclusive questions are raised, indicating future research directions linked to the historical sociology of state formation.