Territory, Identity and Local Politics in the Frontier Zone of Central Benin


Kamal Donko

Research Area:


This study refers to the ongoing debate on the political geography of migration, land conflicts and political power in sub-Saharan Africa, and is based on the interpretative framework of the "African frontier". It intends to scrutinize the inter-linkages between struggles over access to land and questions of belonging and local politics in the frontier zone of central Benin, West Africa. The research has three main objectives: First, the study is to understand the dynamics of land ownership in the study area. Second, it seeks to analyze the socio-spatial strategies of controlling and maintaining political power. And third, it investigates how new hybrid forms of local politics and political structures emerge in order to understand to what extend these new trends affect the relationship between the different ethnic groups in the region and beyond. Specifically, the focus is to examine the connections between land ownership, identity representations, institutional arrangements and socio-political innovations.

The study aims at giving new insights into how the issues of migration, territory and identity can be a vehicle of domination and political control in a West African country. The research will also help in understanding how local and national politics are linked to land dynamics in a frontier zone. A multi-sited approach will be applied, using narratives interviews, group discussions, participant observation and mapping.