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Staking claims: Hybrid governance and state-making on the North Kosovo frontier

Madison, Ian (2022) Staking claims: Hybrid governance and state-making on the North Kosovo frontier. Political Geography, 99. ISSN 0962-6298

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2022.102768


This article explores how state and non-state actors claim public authority in areas of contested sovereignty and limited statehood. It develops the concept of the frontier as a point of departure. The frontier is classically defined as a zonal space of overlapping or contested authority and has long been a site of collaboration between state and non-state actors. Contemporary frontiers, I argue, exhibit two key aspects. First, as a relationship of liminality that applies not only to the geography of the state, but also particular domains of statehood. I highlight three domains in particular: the symbolic domain, where the state is imagined as a collective actor; the contractual domain, which depends on the use of public services to establish a social contract; and the protective domain, the classic Hobbesian justification for the state as a provider of security. I argue that Serbia has sustained a near monopoly over the symbolic and contractual domains in North Kosovo yet is severely constrained in the protective domain. As a result, Belgrade has relied on outsourcing authority to local illicit actors to maintain leverage. These actors, however, have also carved out their own autonomous forms of authority and actively manipulate the ambiguous political boundaries in North Kosovo to their advantage. Exploring North Kosovo through a frontier framework, I argue, adds a crucial spatial dimension to the literature on non-state governance and highlights that frontiers are often not ‘ungoverned spaces,’ but rather sites of intensive state-making practices.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd.
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
J Political Science
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2022 15:03
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 21:09

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