African Realism: Reconceptualising Notions of State Weakness in Western Thought

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

Abstract

This paper critically engages dominant understandings of African state (in)capacity, particularly notions of state ‘failure’, ‘fragility’ and ‘weakness’. Drawing from Ali Al’amin Mazrui’s delineations of latent, imminent, and active instability, it is argued that the contemporary ‘Westphalian’ international system and the nation-state are characterised by latent-imminent instability. Using Zimbabwe as a case study, it is argued that it is neither a weak, fragile or failed state. Rather, it is a strong unstable state and thus, highlights the need to reconceptualise democracy in Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-233
JournalJournal of Pan African Studies: an international medium of African culture and consciousness
Volume10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
EventAfrica: Moving the Boundaries: 39th African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) Annual Conference - University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Duration: 5 Dec 20167 Dec 2016
Conference number: 39
http://afsaap.org.au/conference/perth-2016/

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realism
failed state
international system
Zimbabwe
nation state
democracy

Cite this

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title = "African Realism: Reconceptualising Notions of State Weakness in Western Thought",
abstract = "This paper critically engages dominant understandings of African state (in)capacity, particularly notions of state ‘failure’, ‘fragility’ and ‘weakness’. Drawing from Ali Al’amin Mazrui’s delineations of latent, imminent, and active instability, it is argued that the contemporary ‘Westphalian’ international system and the nation-state are characterised by latent-imminent instability. Using Zimbabwe as a case study, it is argued that it is neither a weak, fragile or failed state. Rather, it is a strong unstable state and thus, highlights the need to reconceptualise democracy in Africa.",
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AB - This paper critically engages dominant understandings of African state (in)capacity, particularly notions of state ‘failure’, ‘fragility’ and ‘weakness’. Drawing from Ali Al’amin Mazrui’s delineations of latent, imminent, and active instability, it is argued that the contemporary ‘Westphalian’ international system and the nation-state are characterised by latent-imminent instability. Using Zimbabwe as a case study, it is argued that it is neither a weak, fragile or failed state. Rather, it is a strong unstable state and thus, highlights the need to reconceptualise democracy in Africa.

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