Chapter 6: Bad things happen in the desert: mapping security regimes in the West African Sahel and the ‘problem’ of arid spaces
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The last decade has seen a rapid security build-up in the West African Sahel. Several powerful actors, including the US, France, and the European Union, have funneled money into counterterrorism and anti-organized crime initiatives throughout the region. These efforts have dramatically changed the scope and character of foreign engagement with the Sahel. Many popular media and scholarly accounts of contemporary foreign-led security efforts in the Sahel are quick to write these developments exclusively into a post-9/11 counterterrorism lineage, which expands outward from the Middle East and East Africa into West Africa. However, these conventional accounts often miss the ways in which present security interventions are inflected through a range of deeper environmental anxieties about arid and semi-arid spaces. This chapter explores this by tracing the fashioning of Sahelian landscapes as sites of security governance in the 21st century.

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