National design and state building in Sub-Saharan Africa

Cameron G. Thies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Cameron G. Thies discusses how stylized models of the state-building process derived from the European experience seem to offer minimal guidance to rulers in the contemporary world. Since Europe was the birthplace of the sovereign territorial state, it is often suggested that some aspect of the European experience has not been replicated among the states that emerged in the aftermath of colonialism. Some have argued that developing states are undergoing an experience very similar to that of early modern European states, which resulted in the development of predatory theory. The complex chains of lord-vassal relationships produced overlapping claims to the same territory in which different juridical instances were geographically interwoven and stratified, and plural allegiances, asymmetrical suzerainties, and anomalous enclaves abounded. The effects of the strategies adopted by African rulers to adapt to their political geographic circumstances are initially examined in a single cross-sectional analysis of the post-independence period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-669
Number of pages47
JournalWorld Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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