Rule and Rupture
Christian Lund is Professor in the Department of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the author of Law, Power and Politics in Niger: Land Struggles and the Rural Code (1998) and Local Politics and the Dynamics of Property in Africa (2008). He is currently working on a book entitled Nine-Tenths of the Law: On Legitimation, Legalisation and Land Struggles in Indonesia. Michael Eilenberg is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Aarhus University, Denmark. He is the author of At the Edges of States (2012), which deals with the dynamics of state formation and resource struggle in the Indonesian borderlands. His recent articles have appeared in Asia Pacific Viewpoint, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, Journal of Borderland Studies, Journal of Peasant Studies, and Modern Asian Studies.
Rule and Rupture
Rule and Rupture: State Formation through the Production of Property and Citizenship
Weak, fragile and failed. Mainstream work on states in post-colonial societies has often used these adjectives to describe dysfunctional public administrations. Kaplan's seminal article, 'The Coming Anarchy', which sketched out imminent lawlessn ess and state disintegration, was the forerunner of huge scholarly interest in state formation in poor countries (Kaplan, 1994). The first generation of the fragile states literature, with its somewhat skewed focus on how real government structures fall short of an ideal Weberian index of a rational state was essentialist, ahistorical and teleological. In a recent literature review on failed states, Hoffmann and Kirk (2013) map out how subsequent research has emerged. While this newer body of scholarship is varied, a few features seem generally shared. These include an interest in how public authority actually works, a focus on competition, contestation and conflict as enduring parts of public authority, and, not least, the acknowledgement that public authority is always in the making . Some particularly interesting contributions have analysed how a broad range of institutions compete over territorial governance, over different forms of rent from resources, and over the grand narrative of history. 1 These perspectives are shared in this Introductory essay, as well as the special issue which follows. However, the present ambition is to elaborate an approach that does not only take the competing institutions as given entities exercising governance with greater, or lesser, effect, ceremony and gusto: by reorienting the enquiry a little, I want to also capture how governance of vital resources creates statehood, or state quality, in these institutions.
In what follows, I therefore present a series of propositions about the inter-connectedness of authority and rights. I suggest that property and citizenship, on the one hand, and authority, on the other, are mutually constitutive and represent social contracts of recognition. I then discuss various dynamics of recognition, such as how state quality emerges out of contracts of recognition, and how this ought to be the centre of analysis of the formation of political authority. Finally, I provide two concise examples from Ghana and Indonesia.
Dynamics of State Formation and Institutional Pluralism
Treating the 'state' as a finished product gets in the way of understanding it. The state is always in the making. Political authority is (re-)produced through its successful exercise over an important issue in relation to the social actors concerned. 2 To move beyond the mere incantation of this claim, this Introduction investigates and specifies contracts of recognition as the key dynamic of the constitution of authority, and the chapters which follow describe and demonstrate it.
The argument I pursue is that the ability to entitle and disenfranchise people with regard to property, to establish the conditions under which they hold that property - together with the ability to define who belongs and who does not, and to establish and uphold rank, privilege and social servitude in its many forms - is constitutive of state power. Claims to rights prompt the exercise of authority. Struggles over property and citizenship are therefore as much about the scope and constitution of political authority as they are about access to resources and membership of polities. Hence, investigating the social production of property and citizenship enables concrete understanding of the dynamics of authority or state formation.
Granted, there are many problematics of government (Rose and Miller, 1992), and not all questions of state formation can be reduced to property and c