Local territories, their power and their actions: development as a weapon for peace

Cristina D’Alessandro-Scarpari, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, France

Abstract: Focusing on local realities and more precisely on urban contexts, post-conflict reconstruction can use development as an instrument for peace – or even as a weapon for peace. At the present time, in an era of non-conventional conflicts, actors can launch development during a conflict. This is especially true when a conflictual situation does not have a precise end. When development works, at the local scale, urban territories are active and central actors. Local territories play a central role in both development and post-conflict reconstruction. This paper focuses on territories, but also on their complex powers in development projects. In fact, in African realities, powers are certainly linked to the “politique du ventre” theorized by Jean-François Bayart, but cannot be reduced only to the unique African interpretation of State power. This paper uses Senegalese examples, raising questions and offering insights from a geographic point of view. Nevertheless, many other examples in a variety of countries fit the proposed analysis. From colonial times, human geography has a long experience in questioning development. French geographers have studied the philosophy of development, have criticized the projects and served as experts in many cases since the 1950s. For decades they focused primarily on rural territories; however, at the present time, they look more to cities, especially capitals. The reason for this shift can be easily identified. Wars take place essentially in capital cities and development starts in the same places.

Keywords: Urban Geography; Development; Power; Post-Conflict Reconstruction; Local Territories

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