This book investigates the emergence, the dissemination and the reception of the notion of ‘state fragility’. It analyses the process of conceptualisation, examining how the ‘fragile states’ concept was framed by policy makers to describe reality in accordance with their priorities in the fields of development and security. Contributors investigate the instrumental use of the ‘state fragility’ label in the legitimisation of Western policy interventions in countries facing violence and profound poverty. They also emphasise the agency of actors ‘on the receiving end’, describing how the elites and governments in so-called ‘fragile states’ have incorporated and reinterpreted the concept to fit their own political agendas. A first set of articles examines the role played by the World Bank, the OECD, the European Union and the G7+ in the transnational diffusion of the concept, which is understood as a critical element in the new discourse on international aid and security. A second set of papers employs three case studies (Sudan, Indonesia and Uganda) to explore the processes of appropriation, reinterpretation and the strategic use of the ‘fragile state’ concept.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Third World Quarterly.
1. ‘Fragile States’: introducing a political concept 2. International Organisations and the Production of Hegemonic Knowledge: how the World Bank and the OECD helped invent the Fragile State Concept 3. The OECD’s discourse on fragile states: expertise and the normalisation of knowledge production 4. The European Union’s ambiguous concept of ‘state fragility’ 5. Measuring and managing ‘state fragility’: the production of statistics by the World Bank, Timor-Leste and the g7+ 6. How Sudan’s ‘rogue’ state label shaped US responses to the Darfur conflict: what’s the problem and who’s in charge? 7. State disintegration and power politics in post-Suharto Indonesia 8. When it pays to be a ‘fragile state’: Uganda’s use and abuse of a dubious concept 9. State fragility and failure as wicked problems: beyond naming and taming
THIRDWORLDS will focus on the political economy, development and cultures of those parts of the world that have experienced the most political, social, and economic upheaval, and which have faced the greatest challenges of the postcolonial world under globalisation: poverty, displacement and diaspora, environmental degradation, human and civil rights abuses, war, hunger, and disease.
THIRDWORLDS serves as a signifier of oppositional emerging economies and cultures ranging from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and even those ‘Souths’ within a larger perceived North, such as the U.S. South and Mediterranean Europe. The study of these otherwise disparate and discontinuous areas, known collectively as the Global South, demonstrates that as globalisation pervades the planet, the south, as a synonym for subalterity, also transcends geographical and ideological frontiers.