Seamless imaginaries, territorialised realities: The regional politics of corridor governance in Southern Africa

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Abstract

Corridors are central to contemporary processes of spatial reordering. On the African continent, they feature prominently in development planning at national, regional and continental scales. This article sheds light on the regional politics and supranational governance of cross-border corridors, aspects that have remained under-represented in the burgeoning literature on corridors. Combining theoretical insights from the New Regionalism Approach and critical political geography and focusing on the ‘corridor agenda’ pursued by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the article deconstructs dominant conceptions of corridors as archetypal spaces of flow and advances the argument that the spatial production and governance of cross-border corridors are contingent upon the compatibility of scalar and territorial articulations of state space. In the case of the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor, the incompatibility of Namibia’s decidedly regional ‘gateway strategy’ and Zambia’s (sub)national ‘pothole politics’ has yielded a connectivity patchwork. Efforts to institutionalise supranational corridor governance have been obstructed by state territoriality aimed at retaining political control over corridor space at the national scale. While commonly represented as spatial panaceas for attaining neoliberal meta-goals of global connectivity and seamless territorial integration, (trans)regional corridors are politically contested spaces that engender dialectical processes of de- and reterritorialisation at various scales.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalTerritory, Politics, Governance
Early online date13 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • regional corridor governance
  • corridor space
  • state spatial strategies
  • Southern African Development Community (SADC)
  • Namibia
  • Zambia

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