New Ways of Conceptualizing Space and Mobility: Lessons from the Sahel to the Globalized World

CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper No. 2012-24

32 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2012 Last revised: 10 Nov 2012

See all articles by Denis Retaillé

Denis Retaillé

University of Bordeaux - Michel de Montaigne University Bordeaux 3

Olivier Walther

University of Florida; University of Southern Denmark

Date Written: May 14, 2012

Abstract

Since the mid-2000s, terrorism has pushed the peripheries of West Africa into the news and the public eye. While the political implications of this phenomenon have been extensively documented, most commentators have adopted a zonal approach to terrorism in which the Sahel and the Sahara are usually confused. This paper assumes that this confusion dramatically highlights the failure of academic and common geography to think beyond territories in West Africa, and to move away from a ‘sedentary’ vision of West African societies. The paper contributes to an understanding of the geographical locations of terrorism in West Africa by showing, firstly, what the main reasons behind the current confusion between the Sahel and Sahara are. Secondly, we show that this confusion arose from a territorial vision of space, which has important implications not only for local economic activities, but also for our own understanding of the spatiality of networks in West Africa.

Keywords: terrorism, space, networks, Social Network Analysis (SNA), Sahel, Sahara, West Africa

JEL Classification: C81, D85, L14

Suggested Citation

Retaillé, Denis and Walther, Olivier, New Ways of Conceptualizing Space and Mobility: Lessons from the Sahel to the Globalized World (May 14, 2012). CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper No. 2012-24. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2084168 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2084168

Denis Retaillé

University of Bordeaux - Michel de Montaigne University Bordeaux 3 ( email )

France

Olivier Walther (Contact Author)

University of Florida ( email )

425 Grinter Hall
Gainesville, FL 32611
United States

University of Southern Denmark ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense, 5000
Denmark

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