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Territorial politics and the reach of the state: unevenness by design

Boone, Catherine (2012) Territorial politics and the reach of the state: unevenness by design. Revista de Ciencia Política (Santiago), 32 (3). pp. 623-641. ISSN 0718-090X

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Identification Number: 10.4067/S0718-090X2012000300007.


Guillermo O'Donnell drew attention to "brown spots" in Latin America's political topography, which he defined as peripheral regions where the presence of the republican state is attenuated and more arbitrary forms of power hold sway. Similarly uneven projections of state authority are visible across sub-Saharan Africa. This paper reviews three ways of explaining such unevenness in the state's reach: (a.) a geographic, economic, and demographic determinism perspective, (b.) a historical-sociological perspective, and (c.) a political perspective centered on strategic bargaining between social actors and state actors. We propose that unevenness in state quality is often an artifact of state-building, rather than evidence of state failure. An analysis of state-building in modern Africa, focusing on Côte d'Ivoire, explores some of these dynamics.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Instituto de Ciencia Política
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Sets: Departments > International Development
Departments > Government
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2013 10:41
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 01:52

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