Development, Territories, and People: Consolidating the External Sovereign Frontier

MR Duffield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


As a liberal relation of governance, development has a long genealogy spanning the colonial and postcolonial periods. This article attempts to uncover these interconnections. Development is first examined in terms of its singular ability to constantly reinvent itself as a "new and improved" formula for sharing the world with others. After discussing the relationship between development, liberal imperialism, and racism, decolonization is considered in relation to the emergence of a global biopolitical divide between "developed" and "underdeveloped" population. That is, life supported by social insurance as opposed to life excepted to be self-reliant. As a technology of security, development policies thus divide. The article argues that the ability of effective states to declare a humanitarian emergency within ineffective ones has played a central role in the post-Cold War reexpansion of the West's external sovereign frontier. Since humanitarianism ignores the state, however, within liberal strategies of governance, consolidating this frontier has fallen to development. While respect for territorial integrity remains, sovereignty over life within ineffective states is now internationalized, negotiable, and contingent.
Translated title of the contributionDevelopment, Territories, and People: Consolidating the External Sovereign Frontier
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-246
Number of pages22
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Lynne Rienner


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