1st Edition

The Political Invention of Fragile States The Power of Ideas

Edited By Sonja Grimm, Nicolas Lemay-Hebert, Olivier Nay Copyright 2015
    162 Pages
    by Routledge

    162 Pages
    by Routledge

    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 Sonja Grimm

    2. International Organizations and the Production of Hegemonic Knowledge: How the World Bank and the OECD helped invent the Fragile State Concept Olivier Nay

    3. The OECD’s Discourse on Fragile States: Expertise and the Normalization of Knowledge Production Nicolas Lemay-Hébert

    4. The European Union’s Ambiguous Concept of ‘State Fragility’ Sonja Grimm

    5. Measuring and Managing ‘State Fragility’: Statistics Production in the World Bank, Timor-Leste and the g7+ Isabel Rocha De Siqueira

    6. How Sudan’s Rogue State Label Shaped US Responses to the Darfur Conflict: What’s the Problem and Who’s in Charge? Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert

    7. State Disintegration and Power Politics in Post-Suharto Indonesia Felix Heiduk

    8. When it Pays to be a ‘Fragile State’: Uganda’s Use and Abuse of a Dubious Concept Jonathan Fisher

    9. State Fragility and Failure as Wicked Problems: Beyond Naming and Taming Derick Brinkerhoff


    Sonja Grimm is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Konstanz, Germany. She publishes on democratization in post-conflict societies and democracy promotion and has co-edited special issues of Democratization on "War and Democratization" (2008) and "Do All Good Things Go Together? Conflicting Objectives in Democracy Promotion" (2012). More about her can be found at [www.sonja-grimm.eu].

    Nicolas Lemay-Hébert is a Senior Lecturer in the International Development Department, University of Birmingham, UK. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding (with Florian Kuhn). His most recent book is "Semantics of Statebuilding: Language, Meanings and Sovereignty" (2014; co-edited with N. Onuf, V. Rakic, and P. Bojanic).

    Olivier Nay is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne, France. He is the Vice-president of the French Association of Political Science and the Chair of the Political Science section at the National Academic Council. He specializes on the reform of international organizations, bureaucratic change and the transnational diffusion of policy ideas. Please see [univ-paris1.academia.edu/OlivierNay].