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The Concept of the State in International RelationsPhilosophy, Sovereignty and Cosmopolitanism$
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Robert Schuett and Peter M. R. Stirk

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748693627

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748693627.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 21 April 2021

The State as Urban Myth

The State as Urban Myth

Governance without Government in the Global South

(p.108) 4 The State as Urban Myth
The Concept of the State in International Relations

Oliver Jütersonke

Moncef Kartas

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter argues that, contrary to the model of the ‘Westphalian state’ commonly referred to in international relations, the modern notion of statehood did not develop despite colonialism but is rather a constitutive part of colonisation itself. In many parts of the global South, particularly in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the states emerging out of the de-colonisation process inherited and continued to maintain the forms of indirect rule that had been established in the nineteenth century. A key characteristic of these structures is the de-coupling of urban and economic centres from the hinterlands, where traditional forms of authority are maintained and consolidated. The result is a scene in which the state is a social construct that only resonates with a small urban elite engaging with the international development community to pursue a state-building agenda that, despite calls for capacity-building and local ownership, seems to miss the essential structural features of ‘decentralised despotism’.

Keywords:   Westphalian state, international relations, statehood, sovereign states, colonisation, colonialism, global South

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