Intra-national IR in Africa

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Scholars debate whether Eurocentric theories of International Relations (IR) offer useful explanations of African international politics. They also debate the applicability of Eurocentric theories of state making for understanding African state making in the post-colonial era. I argue that theories like realism and war-and-state-making appear inconsistent with African political reality because when IR scholars apply these theories to Africa, they study the wrong actors. The 'right' actors for understanding these theories include not only the official states IR scholars traditionally analyse, but also all of the autonomous political entities that control territory, possess military resources, and struggle to survive under anarchy. I substantiate my claims about the usefulness and necessity of expanding the roster of actors studied with an historical narrative of the first six years of Congo's independence. During this time six autonomous political entities, in addition to the one official state, warred with each other, allied with each other, and struggled to make states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-70
Number of pages22
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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