Mittwoch, 21. Juni 2017, 17:00 - 18:30 iCal

Wednesday Seminar

Political Orders in the Making: a comparative study of emerging forms of political Organisation from Libya to Northern Mali

Georg Klute

Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie, HS-C
Universitätsstraße 7 (NIG); 4. Stock, 1010 Wien


The current political developments in Libya and northern Mali represent nothing less than the renegotiation of the post-colonial political order. The toppling of authoritarian regimes in Libya and the subsequent disintegration of Libya in post-revolutionary camps and regions, the continuing Tuareg rebel-lion in northern Mali, accompanied by the rise of transnation-al Islamist and Jihadist forces have led, among other things, to the fragmentation of state structures, to more heterogeneity in politics, and to the emergence of non-state power groups.

In order to understand these processes the paper proposes three theoretical concepts: heterarchy, (historical and pre-sent) connectivities in northwest Africa, and the importance of local actors/locality. The first concept of heterarchy is a recent one, responding to the rapid development of political orders on the African continent and elsewhere within the last twenty years. The concept points at central traits of current political (state and non-state) orders, namely the mutable as well as unstable intertwining of state and non-state orders and the plurality of competing power groups. The second con-cept of connectivity (across states and borders) in northwest Africa is a newly re-discovered topic, perceiving state borders (and the Sahara desert) not as barriers, but as transitional spaces. It allows a better understanding of recent political developments and their historical roots. The concept local actors/locality is well rooted in political anthropology and has lately also been discovered by political science. It underlines the importance of the local in negotiation processes and struggles over what political order to establish. The paper argues that a great deal of order is produced by local and re-gional political actors and power groups in northern Mali and Libya leading to heterarchical figurations with connectivities that transgress the territories of states.


Georg Klute is interested in the emergence of forms of political power and organisation in Afri-ca. In order to overcome the negative qualifica-tions employed within the ‘failed state’ debate, the concept of ‘heterarchy’ is applied; it seems ap-propriate to describe the differentiated and fluctuating distributions of power-foci in many African countries. Research is conducted on the one hand in two border-lands (Egypt-Libya; Algeria-Mali), and on the other in West-Africa (mainly Guinea-Bissau). Borderlands are believed to be a setting in which the emergence of (new) local forms of power, incl. their ‘interlacement’ with national and international state power, can be observed.

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Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie


Tabitha Schnoeller
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie