Towards a spatial approach to study African Peace and Security

Based on the above elaborations, I argue that it is necessary to understand conflict intervention by African ROs, and African peace and security dynamics more generally, as a multiplicity of open-ended processes comprising social interrelations among a multiplicity of actors, objects, ideas, projects and so on. These do not only reach across different spaces and are not only shaped by space, but also actively - consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally - contribute to space-making: the continuous, open-ended construction, formatting and ordering of space. This space-making centrally involves unequal power-knowledge relations that are inherently political, as connections and relations do not emerge, exist and persist just by themselves. Instead, specific more- or less-powerful actors make and maintain, remake or undo them, employing different practices and resources. The results are ever-precarious and changing spaces that are inherently relational and topological, defying easy geometries and straightforward, two-dimensional geographies.

Moving beyond analyses that take space for granted, the spatial approach proposed in this book adopts a critical, constructivist and historicizing

A spatial approach to peace and security 49 perspective. This reflects the ever-changing, relational and political character of space (and time), and allows us to focus on and unpack specific constellations of multiple actors, practices and relations, all while being sensitive to constellations of power and knowledge. Such a spatial approach, while theoretically guided and aiming at theorization, is not about claiming a single, universal truth, but about finding a new way of engaging the world (cf. Thrift 1999, 304), and in particular African ROs and African peace and security dynamics. Especially, it seeks to unravel how places and spaces as well as specific spatializations emerge and change in relation to others, and in relation to specific political projects, pursued at African ROs in and around matters of African peace and security.

To achieve this goal, the following outlines the basic features of a spatial approach, introducing the main theoretical and analytical concepts and tools, and reflecting on how they may help to access space in practical research. Finally, taking a first glimpse through the spatial lens, 1 reframe the interactions between different actors at ECOWAS and the AU, as well as other regional and international actors, from a spatial perspective.

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