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8.0 | 2017
Development as a Battlefield
Les conflits du développement

Development as a Battlefield

Irene Bono and Béatrice Hibou


Conflict and development are commonly understood as two contradictory phenomena. Some apparently self-evident ideas, such as gaps in development being a source of conflict and social and political conflict being a major obstacle to development, have been revitalised by the debate about the Arab Spring and used to orient development projects in the MENA region. This chapter aims to explore a radically different perspective: we conceive development as a complex social relationship, involving a vast constellation of actors, interests, logics, spaces, causalities and temporalities, and we consider conflict in a multidimensional sense, as an expression of struggle, competition, tension, resistance, opposition and critique. Conceived in these terms, conflict and development appear to be strictly interlinked rather than opposites. Three particular configurations characterise development as a ‘battlefield’: conflicts that create consensus around development; consensus as an expression of conflict; and the definition of legitimate conflicts.  There is special focus on the interconnection between different temporal layers characterising the formation of the state and the transformation of capitalism, and the consequences of development for society, the assertion of sovereignty, the definition of social order and how people conduct their lives. This examination of the links between development and conflict thus sheds fresh light on injustice, inequality, modes of government and on how people interpret and live in political society far beyond the MENA region.

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Editor's notes

Paperback reference: Bono, Irene and Béatrice Hibou (2017, forthcoming) ‘Development as a Battlefield’ in Development as a Battlefield, International Development Policy series No.8 (Geneva, Boston: Graduate Institute Publications, Brill-Nijhoff).

Full text

Our thanks go to the members of the review team, including Gilles Carbonnier, Marie Thorndahl, Frances Rice, Emmanuel Dalle Mulle and Jean-François Bayart; to Didier Péclard and Yvan Droz, who attended the seminar we organised around this issue in September 2015 at the Graduate Institute; and to the two attentive readers of one of the first drafts of this introduction, Boris Samuel and a particularly generous anonymous reviewer.

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Electronic reference

Irene Bono and Béatrice Hibou, « Development as a Battlefield », International Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement [Online], 8.0 |  2017, Online since 04 May 2017, connection on 18 August 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/poldev.2301

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About the authors

Béatrice Hibou

Béatrice Hibou is CNRS Senior Research Fellow at the Centre d’Études et de Recherches Internationales (CERI) in Paris, France. She is co-director of the Centre de Recherche, Économie, Société et Culture (CRESC), Mohamed VI Polytechnic, University of Rabat, Morocco.  Her comparative research in political economy focuses on the political significance of economic reform, on state trajectories, and on the exercise of domination in Africa and Europe, from a Weberian perspective.

Irene Bono

Irene Bono is Assistant Professor in Political Science in the Department of Cultures, Politics and Society at the University of Torino, Italy. She is also research associate at the Mohamed VI Polytechnic University in Rabat, Morocco. Her research interests focus on the government of inequality and the role of non-institutional actors in the formation and transformation of the state.

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Creative Commons License
International Development Policy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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