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Governance, Fragility and Insurgency in the Sahel: A Hybrid Political Order in the Making


Once a region that rarely featured in debates about global security, the Sahel has become increasingly topical as it confronts the international community with intertwined challenges related to climate variability, poverty, food insecurity, population displacement, transnational crime, contested statehood and jihadist insurgencies. This Special Issue discerns the contours of political orders in the making. After situating the Sahel region in time and space, we focus on the trajectory of regional security dynamics over the past decade, which are marked by two military coups in Mali (2012 and 2020). In addressing state fragility and societal resilience in the context of increasing external intervention and growing international rivalry, we seek to consider broader and deeper transformations that can be neither ignored nor patched up through the framework of the ‘war on terror’ projected onto ‘ungoverned spaces’. Focusing especially on the mobilisation of material and immaterial resources, we apply political economy lenses in combination with a historical sociological approach to shed light on how extra-legal governance plays a crucial role in the deformation, transformation and reformation of political orders.
Keywords: Sahel, state fragility, hybrid political orders, jihadist insurgencies, extra-legal governance