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Edited by Irene Bono and Béatrice Hibou

Development as a Battlefield is an innovative exploration of the multidimensional meanings of – and interactions between – conflict and development. The two phenomena are all too often regarded as ostensibly antagonistic. This was exemplified again in the context of the Arab Spring that erupted in December 2010 and was eventually short-lived in several countries of the Middle-East and North-Africa (MENA) region. This volume – the 8th thematic issue of International Development Policy – is an invitation to reconsider and renew the way social scientists usually seek to make sense of socio-political and economic developments in the MENA region and beyond.
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Nora Lafi

The Ottoman province of Tunis between the 1850s and its integration into the French colonial sphere in the 1880s, was marked by the emergence of new issues directly arising from an international configuration undergoing profound change. This chapter aims to analyse the relationship between economic development, geopolitics and local issues in the last decades during which the province belonged to the Empire. It will home in on an emblematic conflict, one related to the fate of workers and artisans in fez factories as they protested against what they saw as unfair competition imposed by the European powers, and against the industrialisation that followed the mechanisation of production. These new operating conditions, in a market subject to the growing dominance of foreign trade and to instability in local production, gave rise to many protests. This chapter endeavours to compare and contrast the different levels and scales of this sector, to explain the impact of a new global dimension on local balances and the vectors of a new form of foreign interference. These conflicts also involved different ways of negotiating the reformed relationship between the Ottoman Empire and its province of Tunis in the face of the threat of ever-increasing foreign domination and colonisation. Focusing on the voices of the most modest local players, who spoke out to condemn the deterioration of their living conditions, and on the local and international context, the chapter aims to reveal the dynamic interrelation between different levels and issues, and individual destinies and wider perspectives, at a time of great historical change.

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Fariba Adelkhah

Foreign aid provided for the (re)construction of the Afghan state since 2001 has, paradoxically, intensified the ‘ethnicisation’ and sectarianisation of economic and political relations, contradicting the criteria of good governance advocated by donors. Conflicts apparently related to tradition and identity have become more common and indeed point to more fundamental contradictions between the culturalist representation of Afghan society and the effects of the country’s integration into the world capitalist economy. Thus, viewing Islamic radicalisation, ethnic polarisation or tribal atavism as responsible for the social and political violence in Afghanistan gives an incomplete picture of the situation as it ignores transformations in society and the new challenges of this supposedly traditional conflict.

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Elena Vezzadini

This chapter focuses on conflicts of development from the point of view of the entanglement between development, labour legislation, and labour conflicts during the time of decolonisation. It describes the origins of the trade union movement in Sudan, created after the Second World War, and covers the history of that movement up until 1952, the year in which its curve of radicalisation was stopped and it turned towards more conciliatory labour relations. Dwelling on internal sources emanating from the colonial government and the various labour attachés sent to Khartoum, the chapter aims to shed light on the reciprocal influences and feedback effect between the three main actors of these conflicts: the British government, whose agenda set colonial labour welfare as a top priority; a reluctant Sudanese government accustomed to decades of laissez-faire in matters of labour; and the workers, who quite suddenly discovered that they had the power to compel the government to listen to their demands.

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Ayşe Buğra

Developmentalism refers to a particular ideology marked by a sense of inevitability about the nature of historical change and to political interventions to implement particular strategies of development. The paradox between the ideology of development and development policy challenges the notion of market-led economic progress that proceeds without government intervention and is closely related to social conflicts engendered by economic progress. This chapter approaches capitalism as a socio-economic order where the idea of progress is central to the ideological universe. It also highlights the historically changing and societally different characteristics of capitalism that affect its ideological universe and determine the way conflicts engendered by progress are handled through political intervention. It argues that the concept of developmentalism needs to be examined with reference to the political choices that are situated in different historical varieties of capitalism and that differ in the ways in which they shape the character of economic processes and in their impact on the life and livelihood of the individual. This argument is situated in an analytical frame built by drawing on Karl Polanyi’s work and by remembering the historical trends in development economics, and is developed through a case study on Turkey that shows the variations in the relationship between the economy and politics in different historical periods.

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Nadia Hachimi Alaoui

This chapter examines conflicts of development focusing on the 2015–20 Development Plan for Casablanca, which was the subject of a broad consultation process initiated and implemented by the Wali of Casablanca, the King of Morocco’s direct representative. The study highlights the competing visions, power relationships and struggles that led to the completion of a hundred or so development projects. Unlike studies on urban development in Morocco, which mainly focus on opposition and protest against development projects, or on engendered loyalties and alliances, this chapter highlights the tactical alliances and various mediations that helped define the development plan. This encourages us to understand the state not as a ‘referee’ but as an ‘arena’. The Casablanca development project represents a period when the balance of power and the competing forces at work in Morocco—the interconnected relations of state and society—could be brought up to date.

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Adriana Kemp and Talia Margalit

The article examines recent social mobilisations against the planning and building of towers in Tel Aviv to address ongoing debates over the impact of social activism on the neo-liberalisation of urban development in times of neoliberalism’s ‘legitimation crisis.’ Contrary to binary views of ‘neoliberalism vs. resistance’ prevalent in scholarly debates, we look into the uneven ways in which urban mobilisations are conditioned by local configurations of neo-liberalisation, and how, in their turn, they affect neo-liberal practices as they oscillate between resistance and integration. Based on empirical analysis, we argue that while recent mobilisations introduced novel claims and tactics against the institutional methods and decisions that produce urban space, and succeeded in politicizing towers as the flagship of neoliberal urban development, their actions have been reinserted in the deepening neo-liberalisation of the city. Our findings raise broader insights about the ways in which neo-liberalisation processes sit inside society and not above it, as they shape the actors concerned, their positions, and their visions of development.

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Anouck Gabriela Côrte-réal Pinto

Presented at once as an example, evidence, and even a condition of the economic, technological, political and security development of Turkey, the ‘Turkification’ of the defence industry lies at the heart of the government’s legitimacy. Following a socio-historical approach, this chapter aims to understand how this major project, inseparable from the ongoing formation of the state and of a national bourgeoisie organically related to it, was reconfigured in the neo-liberal era not despite globalisation but based on it, particularly through the commodification of Muslim solidarity and military protection. This project appears to constitute an instrument of ‘nationaliberal’ extraversion that is part of an unstable quest for hegemony, riven by numerous conflicts.

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Marie Vannetzel

The rise of Islamists in Arab countries has often been explained by their capacity to offer an alternative path of development, based on a religious vision and on a parallel welfare sector, challenging post-independence developmentalist states. Taking the case of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and building on ethnographic fieldwork, this chapter aims to contribute to this debate, exploring how conflict and cooperation were deeply intertwined in the relationships between this movement and Mubarak’s regime. Rather than postulating any structural polarisation, or—in contrast—any simplistic authoritarian coalition, the author argues that the vision of two models of development opposing one another unravels when we move from abstract approaches towards empirical studies. On the ground, both the Muslim Brotherhood and the former regime elites participated in what the author calls the politics of ‘goodness’ (khayr), which she defines as a conflictual consensus built on entrenched welfare networks, and on an imaginary matrix mixing various discursive repertoires of state developmentalism and religious welfare. The chapter also elaborates an interpretative framework to aid understanding of the sudden rise and fall of the Brotherhood in the post-2011 period, showing that, beyond its failure, what is at stake is the breakdown of the politics of ‘goodness’ altogether.

Open Access

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Edited by Irene Bono and Béatrice Hibou