Reproducing remoteness? States, internationals and the co-constitution of aid ‘bunkerization’ in the East African periphery

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The physical and social retreat of international interveners behind the walls of ‘bunkered’ aid compounds in (putatively) more remote and dangerous regions of the South has been the focus of growing critical attention in recent years. An increasingly remote and fearful culture of risk aversion and differentiation among Western states and organizations has been largely identified as the driving force behind this set of practices. This article presents a different perspective on the bunkerization phenomenon through focusing on the agency of Southern states in the process. Exploring bunkerization across eastern/central Africa—and in Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region in particular—the study emphasizes not only how African states have been key promoters of modern bunkerization, but also how bunkerization behaviour and mentalities have historically characterized how many African borderlands—and contemporary sites of international intervention—have been incorporated into the global state system.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-119
JournalJournal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Issue number1
Early online date15 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • Aid bunkerization, sovereignty, international intervention culture, eastern Africa, agency