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Roadblock Politics


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Sovereignty on a Shoestring; Part I. A Prehistory of the Roadblock: 2. Hongo Polities (1830-1890); 3. Infrastructural Empire (1890-1960); 4. Ruination and the Revenge of Distance (1960-2000); Part II. Roadblock Politics: 5. La Route, Ca Coute: Roadblock Geographies; 6. The Supply Chain Frontier; 7. CAR: War of Roads; 8. Nonconventional Logistics; 9. Transparency Goes to War; Conclusions; Bibliography.

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Through the lens of roadblocks, Schouten offers a unique explanation of what drives conflict and state formation in Central Africa.

About the Author

Peer Schouten is a Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, Associate Researcher of the International Peace Information Service, and Editor-in-Chief of Theory Talks. His work combines deep fieldwork in Central Africa with theory development and engagement with policy debates.


'It's astonishing how many corners of both state-making and resistance theory are illuminated by this brilliant, deeply-researched study of roadblocks. No serious student of sovereignty and political economy ought to be allowed out the door in the morning without having digested its contents and applied the magnifying lens it provides. It has that 'world in a grain of sand' quality to it.' James C. Scott, Yale University

'In this book, Peer Schouten lays bare a truth about the connection between violence and development - that is, development as we in the west might have called it. The indigenous people of Central Africa might have thought of it in very different terms. Many critical analyses have been written about how we, non-Africans, left our savage traces all over Africa, one of the major sites of our extractions. A must read.' Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, New York

'Based on extraordinary research in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, this is an innovative approach to the study of conflict dynamics in resource-rich areas with roadblocks as alternative financing mechanisms for armed groups. By placing roadblock politics in a comprehensive historical perspective including pre-twentieth century Europe and precolonial Africa, Peer Schouten has made an outstanding contribution to state formation theory.' Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

'An instant classic' Daniel Agbiboa, Perspectives on Politics

'A breathtaking book' Susan Thomson, New Books Network

'A strikingly original study' Nicolas van de Walle, Foreign Affairs

'Amazing, unputdownable… One of these books that completely changes the narrative' Robert Amsterdam, Departures Podcast

'A smart, beautifully written explanation of the actual nature of power and control in Congo and the Central African Republic … Brilliantly researched, “Roadblock Politics” avoids unnecessary jargon and is accessible to just about anyone: students, policymakers and general readers alike. I can't recommend it highly enough.' Laura Seay, The Washington Post

'Masterful … Roadblock politics is an eminent and enriching contribution to the literatures on state formation, political economy and conflict studies, as well as to the burgeoning academic interest in the granular, frictious and often deadly life of logistics.' Adam Bregnsbo Fastholm, International Affairs

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