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States and Power in AfricaComparative Lessons in Authority and Control$
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Jeffrey Herbst

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164137

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164137.001.0001

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The Challenge of State-Building in Africa

The Challenge of State-Building in Africa

(p.11) One The Challenge of State-Building in Africa
States and Power in Africa

Jeffrey Herbst

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines three sets of issues that present a challenge to state-building in Africa: the cost of expanding the domestic power infrastructure; the nature of national boundaries; and the design of state systems. Understanding the decisions made regarding each is critical, and there are profound trade-offs inherent to different approaches. Africa’s political geography helped structure the responses that leaders adopted to each set of issues just as European decisions were influenced by the structural features of that region. The chapter first compares the political geographies of Europe and Africa, focusing on the European experience of state consolidation and the nature of African politics, before discussing the extension of power in Africa. It also explores continuities in African politics and concludes with an overview of the analytic tools that are central to this study.

Keywords:   state-building, Africa, power, boundaries, political geography, Europe, state consolidation, politics

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