Diasporic States



“The State is sovereignty,” wrote Deleuze and Guattari. “But sovereignty only reigns over what it is capable of internalizing, of appropriating locally” (1987: 360). This chapter examines how the Sierra Leonean state exercises its (partial) sovereignty through its interactions with diasporic populations. The parenthetical qualifier about sovereignty underscores the notion that states always have an uneven interest in, and control over, territory and populations. However, since the 1990s scholars of African politics have pointed to the global, local, and historical dynamics that made for especially “weak” states in parts of the continent. Weak, or dependent, states in modern African history had a productive role, partly because through strategies of extraversion deployed in them, elites could remain in power through the mobilization of “resources derived from their (possibly unequal) relationship with the external environment” (Bayart 2000: 218), particularly through commercial alliances with external actors (Reno 1997), rather than having to be accountable for their legitimacy to their fellow citizens and risk internal challenges from competing factions. In other words, strategies of extraversion could provide “extraterritorial,” nonbureaucratic political power to particular regimes (see Reno 2001: 198). Increasingly, diasporic populations are one of the many resources that play into strategies of extraversion in African politics.


Host Country Public Sphere Refugee Camp Peace Talk Associational Life 
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© Mariane C. Ferme 2016

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