Regionalization or the art of cutting

De Baripedia

This theme refers to regionalisation operations, i.e. geographical division. For several decades, geography has applied a method of clever territorial division. Geography has become the science of the distribution and division of space in a coherent way.

For a long time, geography was a descriptive discipline that tried from the end of the 19th century to become an explanatory science. After the unfortunate adventure of determinism, geography came closer to a descriptive posture by developing methods of regional divisions. Notably, this was done by the French regional geography school of Paul Vidal de la Blache.

It was a question of describing in more rigorous terms than to function in simple inventory, but by proposing relevant divisions of space. Cut-outs at all scales were produced.

Because of its specialization in this exercise, geography has been called upon as an expert discipline to cut out areas considered relevant and for which it is possible to seize it as an administrative entity or a State-Sovereign type. Thus we move from a learned expertise to an expertise at the service of politics to build political territories.


Proposal for an imperative regionalisation[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The establishment of the postapartheid provincial map[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

At the very beginning of the 1990s, apartheid came to an end with a transitional regime and the establishment of a true democracy.

Carte d'Afrique du Sud avec bantoustans

During these few years of transition, one of the imperatives was to dismantle the apartheid legislative apparatus. One of the major problems is to get rid of the South African map at the regional level based on a two-space space: the one that derives from the British colonial heritage (Cape and Natal) and the Boer republics (Orange Free State and Western Cap) and the one unlocking Bantustans as well as entities totally dependent on the South African economy.

The transitional regime must get rid of this card. To produce a new map in provinces of equivalent status, the transitional regime will set up a think tank: does South Africa have to be a federal entity or a centralized entity? The idea is to produce a coherent map and equivalent statutes.

Carte du Bophuthatswana

This map is that of Bophuthatswana, which is caricatured and made up of many entities that prevent a sovereign state from lasting. However, a platinum mine and a leisure park near Johannesburg and Pretoria have been transferred: the latter transfer stems from the fact that the puritanical spirit of the Afrikaners prevented gambling on their territory, hence the usefulness of the Bantustans for this trade. One city was also transferred, but was not located in a viable space to exercise authority.

Alwyn Wolfaardt pleads for his life.

In 1994, there was an attempted coup d'état by Afrikaner militias who wanted to impose an authority in a Bantustan in favour of maintaining the Bantustans.

The commission has proposed three contributions, some of which come from geographers who refer to regional division principles.

The functionalist option[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Afrique du sud aires de polarisation.jpg

This option is based primarily on areas of urban polarization.

This map shows the former Bantustan boundaries as well as lines representing regional ensembles polarized by a city. We start from the existence of a certain number of cities which exert a polarization, this city has rare services. The identification of this urban polarization makes it possible to identify the main functional regions.

In other words, there is a city that polarizes a region. The card can therefore be given almost automatically, which does not require any arbitration.

The following map shows all the agglomerations that can be considered as cities, i.e. with at least 10,000 agglomerate inhabitants, which give a fairly precise idea of the agglomerate population and the hierarchy of cities.

south african urban agglomeration in 1991.

A few large cities are needed, but the large number of smaller cities makes choices more difficult. One can very well propose as a regional pole cities of reduced dimensions alone in a vast environment.

Depending on the cursor choice, the consequences can be more or less important. To reduce the weight of certain regions, cities are assigned an area of reduced polarization. For example, creating an area around East-London brings together two Bantustans, this choice leads to the proposal of a region polarized by East-London, but also polarized by the Xhosa ethnic group. If we extend this region to the one polarized by Port Elizabeth, we create a multi-ethnic region. Based on a fairly neutral, functional and objective proposal, we end up with regionalisations that can promote an ethnic region or, on the contrary, completely dismantle it.

In other words, this map proposes a regionalisation according to the poles which are the cities. We have an impression of simplicity, but in fact it is made abstraction of two possibilities which are :

  • the choice of the number of large cities potentially at the heart of polarized areas
  • the choice of an extension of the polarization area.

We can say that this map is not obvious and objective, which can involve arbitrariness. This map suggests that politics must make choices, but that these choices will only relate to areas that will have to be polarized.

RSA proposed autonomous region.

The culturalist option: ethnolinguistic areas[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

This option is based on ethnolinguistic areas. This proposal came from an organization whose objective was to promote an organization of South Africa into ethno-regional entities. This pressure group was made up of authorities from former Bantustans such as Bophuthatswana and Kwazulu, think tanks close to the far-right Afrikaners in order to perpetuate the model of great apartheid, the Inkatha FreedomParty, which is the Zulu ethnoregionist party, but also OGN, whose reference model is the promotion of development based on traditional grassroots communities that try to promote a traditionalist and communist vision.

South africa ad peace at last.jpg

This publicity would refer to certain situations of the early 1990s which seemed to be in conflict and whose solution was in an ethnoregionalist division. At the very beginning of the 1990s, Yugoslavia was in the midst of a crisis following the demands for independence from Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia, and it was thought that a solution based on an ethnoregionalist division would have made it possible to settle the explosion of former Yugoslavia from a pacifist point of view, but which finally did not have the desired effect leading to war. This pressure group had as its basis this vision, a vision based on an ethnoregionalist division leading to a potential peace in order to have a new peaceful South Africa while keeping a certain rationalist vision.


This table is supposed to represent the entire South African population according to their language of origin. However, we could again aggregate these linguistic bases on other levels, this choice shows a certain categorical arbitrariness. There is an obvious arbitrariness between those who are of European origin and those who are not. Among other things, we see that Afrikaners are a more ambiguous category in terms of their ethnic identification, making it possible to propose a vast partitioning between populations.

This type of division is on the one hand questionable and on the other hand this type of division is lacking when it comes to dealing with the urban environment, because it is cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and plurilinguistic. Thus a good part of the South African population is not ultimately concerned by this division going against the idea of creating regional entities.

In other words, this document is the scientific basis of the ethnoregionalist lobby. If we cross a set of areas and the distribution of population groups according to the criteria used we will each time have a totally dominant group. This division would be appropriate for all the communities that would represent them in majority. Thus only rural space is treated to the detriment of urban space which in reality does not allow to answer the main question.

The bioregionalist option[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

This is the environmental field with the bioregionalist option. Reflection and pressure groups propose alternatives to the political proposal inherited from decolonisation. These groups propose to return to the natural functioning of ecosystems and the organization of terrestrial space advocating regionalization according to environmental criteria.

Structure of south africa, escarpment.

This map is the creation of ethnoregionalists in order to get out of politics and let them be arbitrated by nature. They do not propose criteria related to society, but natural and environmental criteria that are in a neutral word, nature would speak for itself and would propose to get out of social problems by offloading ideology. The topographical organization of the South African space is represented: there are successive high plateaus and ranges which are escarpments which make it possible to pass from high plateaus to coastal regions by mountain massifs. There is a clear difference between the interior characterized by the plateaus and the periphery marked by the coastline.

Display of the catchment areas in subequatorial Africa.[11]

This map represents the watersheds that, once melted, will flow and join a drainage system. Each watershed leads to an ocean; some are very small and others extremely large due to rivers draining the interior of the continent. The Orange River watershed drains from Namibia and Botswana while other coastal watersheds along these escarpments drain much smaller areas.

In addition, it has phenomena of rocking of the escarpments generated by human developments in order to divert the rivers to irrigate badly drained lands. Thus, the bioregionalist organization can be rather arbitrary and truncated, one is obliged to proceed to subdivisions and territorial groupings.

Le bassin de l'Orange, ressource et consommations d'eau

On the high plateaus, in regions that are partially under water stress and arid, there have been development operations to fetch water from other catchment areas. The natural proposal is therefore the result of non-objective operations, because those who made this proposal had to subdivide the earlier Orange River proposal. Conversely, they have brought together a number of coastal watersheds.

Homogeneous reponse zone.png

The resulting proposal is finally based on a division close to that of the great apartheid under the cover of a truncated bioregionalist organisation.

To conclude, on the one hand regionalisation can be based on different options, on the other hand these operations are never neutral and are always carried out with trade-offs between several possibilities.

A new map: between stability, redistribution and functionalism[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Finally, the transitional regime received many proposals and also came under pressure from political groups that defended certain visions and regions. A compromise map was established by retaining the idea of 8 provinces with the renewal of some states such as Orange Free State and Matale.

The other option followed is that most of the former Bantustans were distributed in several provinces. The transitional regime knew that an optimal number of regions was needed, and ultimately arbitrations were made to satisfy demands and ultimately reduce political problems.

The principles of regional coherence[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Tableau giraut 2009.png

When we propose a division and regionalisation, we will always justify this proposal in the name of a principle of coherence in a particular economic, cultural or environmental field. Explicit cutting choices are made. Very often when scientists or politicians use an argument to propose regionalization, they develop the compromise argument. In reality, there are contradictory principles that we will favour and that are not compatible:

  • Principle of homogeneity: regions and territories are cut out in which we will gather places which are most similar in a logic of homogeneous territory;
  • Complementary principle: grouping of complementary places with complementary links.

These two opposing principles can be developed in different fields.

When we have this reading grid, we can distinguish the proposals more clearly, but they remain in the economic, cultural or environmental field:

  • Environmental field: we are looking to create bioregions.
    • Complementarity principle: we are interested in watersheds that bring together places that have complementarity links referring to hydraulic functions with upstream and downstream places. The valleys are grouped together.
    • Principle of homogeneity: massifs are defined on the basis of belonging to the same environment. Generally, a massif is considered to be an important whole with particular characteristics that are valid in their entirety. Each valley is cut in two.
  • Economic field: reference to urban polarization.
    • Complementary principle: these are the employment areas, it is the area of what depends and what concerns the services of the city centre. The city provides the services or jobs and the periphery provides the customers and labour. This leads to polarized employment areas and regions.
    • Principle of homogeneity: the creation of an economic region is proposed. In the USSR, within the framework of planning, the authorities decided on the specialisation of the regions according to their speciality, the resources available and the industry already in place. At the regional level, we find more recently in the history of the industrial districts, also known as localized productive system, which gather a group of places specialized in the same field giving a notoriety to this regional group.
  • Political-cultural field: is based on the principle of homogeneity.
    • Principle of complementarity: one seeks to represent a piece of society in the form of a community that brings together entities of different social and ethnic origins.
    • Principle of homogeneity: we are looking for homogeneous communities sharing common identities such as the feeling of belonging linked to language, history, etc. The community acquires a communitarian type of jurisdiction.

This table helps clarify the issues and choices. The practice of regionalisation and territorial division is a practice which has to do with political choices and which can be analysed on the basis of deciphering the principles available.

All these proposals are objective, but are based on arbitrary proposals that are not necessarily explicit. They are made under the guise of objectivity and specificities that overshadow certain alternatives. The following documents each illustrate the elements of the previous grid in their own way.

In the United States, there are territorial divisions in force that are of colonial origin from European populations that took possession of the continent and very quickly organized the territory into political and administrative entities. For this purpose, space is divided by borders and geometric limits that appear arbitrary and are not based on topographic and ethnographic reality. This type of breakdown does not represent regional evidence.

Malcom wells1.png

The type of rectilinear cutting has been and is often criticized as arbitrary, as it does not correspond at all to the natural on the one hand and social realities that exist in different regions of the United States on the other. A bioregionalist movement proposes replacing geometric borders with borders that would be based either on pre-colonial history or more generally on natural borders limiting regional entities.

The will is to replace one card with another. Even for ethnoregionalists, the breakdown is not obvious, because several options are available :

  • one option aims to identify homogeneous regions from a natural point of view;
  • an option that aims to build regions that have a natural legitimacy based on complementarity by playing on watersheds.
Us ecoregions et hydrographie.jpg

Thus, we define a certain number of divisions that do not overlap. Even in the environmental field there is not a good regional breakdown, but there are several possible ones:

  • ethnographic basins option
  • option of terrestrial ecoregions based on the identification of regions that bring together places with close environmental characteristics leading to natural landscapes that are relatively similar.
California bioregions.jpg

For California, a certain number of scientists have been asked to proceed with a division into bioregions. Thus, California is divided into about ten regions. A group of scientists proposed a combination of environmental but also topographical factors with the consideration of a set of catchments. It is an opposition between homogeneity and complementarity. This gives a questionable breakdown, because the watersheds and homogeneous regions are not fully found. This combination will serve to develop public policy in the environmental field.

This map of California divides the territory into micro-regions corresponding to the different tribal groups. Modern cartography refers to a set of regions that do not overlap and occupy all space.

There is not a single portion of space that does not belong to any region. Modern thought has accustomed us to an exclusive and exhaustive division of space. In reality, space operations are much more complex, because no single entity belongs to more than one group at the same time. This was particularly true of the so-called traditional societies, namely the tribal groups that occupied the American continent before the arrival of Europeans. We have a translation of the relationship to the space of the Indian populations according to world thought. However, the tribal groups still had a different organization.

It is a cartography that attempts to account for the long denied territoriality of the Indians by using the tools of modern thought imported by Europeans. There is a division into small regional entities corresponding in principle to the territories belonging to the different tribes.

Thus this map is part of the cultural and political field, but also of a homogeneous approach.

Geographical figures make it possible to explain that one refers to an entity which has a geographical legitimacy; this is in particular the case of the figure of the valley which is often used in order to signify that one has a certain geographical logic occupied by a human group, an activity or a certain environment.

When the figure of the valley proceeds from a political division, it no longer necessarily corresponds to its initial definition.

On this map we have a set of natural-type cut-outs used to conduct a public policy such as the delimitation of forest areas corresponding to the air of intervention of an administration specialized in forest management. This division finds its legitimacy in the delimitation of forest massifs, but in reality it is a purely administrative division which serves to define the areas of intervention of an administration.

Two Indian reserves are also identified, each referring to the figure of the valley:

  • one corresponds only to the shallow banks of a river; it is the minimal vision of the valley with a stream and a reduced portion of its banks;
  • a corresponding one which also refers to the figure of the valley which is called the "houppa valley" referring to an intermediate portion on the course of the valley which is an intermediate basin bounded by a square.

We refer to a geographical figure which is that of the valley, but in fact we find ourselves with political and administrative spaces which are arrangements starting from the notion of valley.

Europe bioregions1.png

In Europe, bioregions are being looked at in an attempt to pursue policies that will be adapted to certain environmental characteristics. At the European level, for several years an attempt has been made to define an assembly policy in order to determine the spaces which belong and do not belong to the assembly regions with the aim of establishing a policy linked to assembly.

To do this, a series of studies uses a number of criteria such as altitude and slope to determine whether or not a community is part of a mountain region. These are the thresholds and spatial frameworks within which these criteria will be used. If we use a municipal division, we will have a fine division, but we will find mountain municipalities that do not necessarily meet the criteria.

If we apply these criteria in a broader spatial framework such as regions or cantons, we will have a whole canton that may or may not switch to mountain regions.


We see that according to the level of generalization we will have a mountain region, here in pink, which includes 2/3 of Switzerland. If we use the same criterion at the scale of the communes, we see that part of the Valais escapes the "assembly" category. Thus the scale of definition plays on the breakdown.

Europe montagne zonale.png

Once we have defined these mountain regions, we have a vast set of zonal type that correspond to the mountains in Europe. We can also differentiate the different massifs: we first have a breakdown of the "assembly" zone then we differentiate the massifs in addition to using the national borders to differentiate the massifs according to their membership of one or the other European State. Within an area defined according to bioregionalist cisterns, there will be an internal division using other criteria, notably national membership. In both cases, these approaches favour the principle of coherence and homogeneity.

Métropole français de Paris hegemonie.png

This is the entire French urban network dominated by the French metropolis of Paris, which occupies a central and important dimension that gives it a hegemonic place in this city system. A set of cities appears arranged according to their size organized according to a north-south, west-east dimension hierarchy and finally vertically they are positioned according to their size.

A metropolis dominates the system then it has a regional subsystem that dominates a regional sub-set. It is a relatively abstract figure, but it will allow regional groupings to be made by playing on the levels of urban hierarchy.

This type of figure, which is not frequent, makes it possible to establish explicitly the choices that are made when proposing a regional division based on urban polarization. Here, we prefer about fifteen cities that give an extraordinarily different division according to the large regions, but which is unbalanced.

This breakdown corresponds to the reality of the imbalance in the organisation of the French space, but does not correspond to the administrative reality that confers Paris a small regional space do not correspond to the reality of its polarisation.

Division de la france en régions par adaptation au découpage départemental.png
Christaller allemagne.png

This map of Germany was proposed by Christaller, it would be as close as possible to the reality of urban polarization, i.e. organizes Germany into a functional entity.

The cartographic representation mode is interesting: the entities correspond to cells, it is a kind of organic tissue. This representation sought to convey the idea that a nationalist entity is composed of living entities corresponding to living cells, it is an organicist metaphor.

Some think tanks want to readapt the Swiss administrative map to adapt it to the functionality of the territory.

Suisse poids demographique.jpg

The urban framework appears where metropolitan regions have been added, then in red areas centred on a large city or which integrate several large cities joining the large conurbations by integrating the peri-urban opposed to neither urban nor metropolitan regions with regional systems that group together medium-sized cities present in peripheral regions such as the Valais or Ticino. This organisation shows the contrasts that exist throughout Switzerland between regions on the basis of their urban character or not and on the basis of their polarisation.

The following map shows the major Swiss metropolitan areas. It does not lead to an exhaustive division of the territory since there is no metropolitan area on the whole Swiss territory.

From there it is possible to make cut-outs. At the same time, it is a division based on the reality of polarization.

In reality, the proposals made take care not to establish fixed land ownership, because it is in the precise delimitation of borders that political conflicts are nested.

Carte suisse aire1.jpg

We prefer to indicate the large hearts of regions as well as their number. This proposal spills over into neighbouring areas to show that these contemporary regional realities do not necessarily respect political and international borders.

Revenu suisse representation spatiale.jpg

This map shows the contrasts that exist in terms of wealth measured by Swiss municipality. It is a map per anamorphosis whose size of each entity corresponds to the number of their residents giving an enlarged appearance. This reflects the distribution of population and wealth areas knowing that the richest communes are not generally the centre elements, but rather the first peripheral ring. This reflects contrasts that may be relevant in proposing regionalization. Other cartographies oppose the communes according to their economic specialization.

Suisse typologoie socio environnementale.jpg

We find a traditional cartography where each entity is represented proportionally to its surface from which emanates a typology of the activities which shows clear contrasts and that one can proceed to regional groupings on the basis of the economic homogeneity.

Ein stadtebauliches.jpg

Others propose a radical vision of a division of Switzerland into several different entities:

  • Identification within mountain regions of mountain regions that correspond to a rural marginal who is losing ground.
  • The authors have isolated the "springs", the enclaves of the regions boosted by tourist and real estate activity by making a direct link with the metropolitan and international populations that frequent it without crossing the rural population of the mountain.
  • We see areas of interstitial "silence" between large metropolitan areas because they are dull and which are also sought by some people to be in quiet environments.

This graph shows that at European level, the European Union is trying to adapt its regional policy to the diversity of environments and environments by focusing on so-called "specific" territories:

  • border areas: induce a whole series of particular realities
  • sparsely populated area: these are a good part of the Scandinavian regions
  • inner periphery: refers to interstitial zones
  • assembly area
  • densely populated areas
  • islands
  • coastal zones
  • ultra peripheral regions: these are regions that are located on other continents inherited from the colonial period

These categories of territories are particular from an essentially environmental and economic point of view, but are difficult to define.

From region to territory: acceptances of a dominant concept in geography[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Social geography.png

The term territory is a widely used term today and has become dominant and hegemonic in geography. However, it is difficult to find a homogeneous definition of the term territory that can, through its implicit interpretations, lead to misunderstandings.

This figure tries to position the different uses of the term which gives rise to two poles that we see appearing:

  • extensive use (left) of the notion with a vague definition that leaves the term to be used to designate different realities. The territory has a generic word that designates many realities. Those who use it extensively use this notion as a synonym for space and area. From the moment a phenomenon or reality exists in a space, it is considered a territory.
  • restrictive use (right), it is a specific notion that can only be used in geopolitics. It refers exclusively to the area of exercise of sovereignty of the nation-state delimited by international borders.

In English, the term "territory" is used in a restrictive sense. However, the term "place" is also used to define places with a spatial extension corresponding to areas. Thus the term "territory" was used restrictively for a long time.

Today, the term tends to change definition in English, because it is inspired by a globalization effect of the Latin definition which is much broader. Since then, the term territory has an increasingly extensive use in English.

In both cases, we are not dealing with a concept that corresponds to the use of a relatively precise term to designate a set of situations. Between the two, a group of geographers uses the term territory as a concept based on the notion of appropriation: refers to a reality that has a certain spatial extension in connection with the reality of appropriation of this space by one or more social groups. In other words, this concept of territory refers to the association of one or more social groups. But the question of what defines appropriation is not seen in the same way according to the current in geography and social sciences:

  • some focus on the cultural dimension
  • on the political dimension

We have a cultural geography that will rather use the term territory in connection with social names and cultural appropriation related to individual identity and collective identity.

The political geography approach focuses on ownership through political control and the establishment of institutions that ensure political control.

So, in both cases we have realities that have a certain spatial extension and a phenomenon of social appropriation passing through the cultural through the construction of identities or not the political through the notion of control and the construction of institutions.

In the triangle appears the notion of project. Some researchers believe that there is territory if there is a collective project, it is notably the currents which make applied research questions of local, regional and economic development and which will be particularly attentive to the development dynamics linked to the extension of a collective project on a space.

We are in a reality that has a certain spatial extension, a phenomenon of appropriation that passes through the collective project considered an asset in terms of development are more applied approaches in terms of development and planning.

Between the extensive pole which defines little by using the word territory as a synonym for air or region, and the restrictive pole which designates the term "territory" as the space of exercise of national sovereignty delimited by borders. There are approaches that attempt to define the concept of "territory" in relation to the notion of appropriation that privileges the question of identity (cultural geography approach), control (political geography approach) or collective project (local or regional geography approach).

Among those who use the term territory extensively, some still do so as part of a conceptualization, especially those who oppose territory and network. They use the term territory extensively as a synonym for areolar phenomena, but also give it a conceptual dimension by contrasting it with the operation of a network of discontinuous identities. Jacques Levis defines the term territory in a very broad sense by systematically opposing it to network operation.

From modernity to postmodern territoriality[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The term postmodernity applies to different fields. Territorial modernity is the dominant paradigm that was established during the modern period from the 16th to the 19th century, during which the world imposed itself as nation-states and colonial empires.

During this period, a paradigm imposed itself which introduces the idea that a political territory is delimited by fixed borders in time and space. On the other hand, this paradigm carries the idea that a political entity must correspond to a continuous space.

Thus, space is divided into exclusive and exhaustive entities that are the key elements of the modern paradigm of territory and political territoriality.

Principle of territorial modernity: Academic regionalization meets the political imperative of regionalization and territorialization to administer and govern the nation-state and its colonies :

  • Organization in constituencies: does not allow multi-membership
  • Strict interlocking with provinces made up of musicalities and states made up of provinces
  • Completeness: all portions of space must belong to a territorial entity
  • Fixed limits: exclusive sovereignty
  • Exclusive sovereignty

How could these principles be applied to spaces whose mode of operation is significantly different?

The application of the principles of territorial modernity has a fluid space: the Nigerian Sahel.

Shale means shoreline which constitutes the shores of the Sahara and the regions which are starting and finishing points for those who embark on the crossing of the desert.

Les principales routes historiques de commerce transsaharien.

In the pre-colonial period, a certain number of exchanges developed between the southern and northern banks of the Sahara giving rise to intensive trans-Saharan trade. A road map has been set up between Sahelian cities developed thanks to trade and to pre-colonial political conceptions that favoured central cities, but also between intermediate points that are oases. Today, many of these Sahelian cities are extremists who plunder the heritage of these cities. Thus, this map shows the historical anchorage of certain cities of Sahel which are points in a space of structured course.

Le niger au XVIII et XIX siècle.png

The borders are of colonial origin introduced inside this area which acts as a fixed border. Political constructions dominated spaces, but the defined sovereign space was not operational at that time. With European colonization, the arrival of the paradigm of territorial modernity was established with the establishment of borders that did not all have the same value:

  • there are borders that delimit the area of sovereignty of different colonies within the same colonial empire;
  • other borders delimit the area of sovereignty of different colonial powers.

Within Nigerian space, undefined blurred areas are identified, drawing areas of different dimensions. The Sultan of Agades dominates a space that is not precisely delimited, but relatively extensive. An entity constitutive of a Tuareg empire is imposed on an area not limited, but which interferes with the sultanate of Agades. In the Sahel proper speaking, we have entities of different nature how the empire of Bornou which integrates several sultanates, within which there are spaces which do not come under its sovereignty, there is an interweaving and complexity of the territorial and political reality which cannot be reproduced according to a modern territorial representation mode.

Colonial power is faced with complex entities. Villages appear autonomous as part of a larger imperial entity, there are local principalities and cross-border principalities.

Les états sossebaki et le damagaram.jpg

Colonization is facing these realities and will transform them from its logic of territorialization to cuts corresponding to entities of exclusive sovereignty and strictly nested in each other.

This gives a map with cantons with customary authority. Colonization will use the indirect administration technique as a concession to local societies.

In fact, it was on the one hand the only applicable modality to administer at the local level, on the other hand, these local authorities were completely reformatted by colonization to be sure that there were relay persons who would apply the colonial directives with revocation games to conform to the colonial objectives in order to rename more docile authorities.

On the other hand, there is a reformatting of the powerful entities to break them and make them correspond to the basic administration module of the colony. Where acephale-type societies had to be created, basic cantons would be created to correspond to the basic module of colonial administration.

All this is done within the framework of territorial engineering, within the framework of colonial administration technology that corresponds to the paradigm of territorial modernity. Thus, a Sahelian space transformed into a modern administered space is elaborated.

Les centres administratifs nigériens en 1998.png

From a space of relative fluidity and a space where the variable geometry of political entities dominated, we have a grid space in exhaustive and exclusive territorial entities. There is even a zoning that was carried out between the areas reserved for rain-fed agriculture and pastoral livestock. It is the application of a very modern vision of spatial organization, we are going to have a strict zoning that will be carried out and taken over by the States that emerged from independence that finally did not correspond either to the modes of pre-colonial agrarian and pastoral organizations that were more intertwined.

Les centres pastoraux du departement de zindar.png

In order to facilitate livestock breeding activities today, we proceed to delimited territories reserved for livestock farmers from service areas where they will find water resources and from which they will be able to travel in search of pasture.

Carte-permis-uranium-niger copie.png

There is also a division into territorial entities corresponding to operating permits. In Niger, there is the uranium resource that has been mined by different companies and is the subject of exploration licences. Thus we have a division into limited entities that correspond to prospecting permits. This desert, which is an open space par excellence, is the subject of a division of the subsoil into narrowly defined entities.

This is how different legal and administrative procedures, others relating to the exploitation of natural resources, whether agricultural or mining, lead to a strict division of the Sahelian space, which is par excellence a space of fluidity, movement and course, but which was also a political space of entities with variable geometries.

Thus, it was possible to apply a certain logic of organization of space and representation of space corresponding to modernity territory to spaces that were part of a completely different logic of spatial and social organization.

Annexes[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

References[modifier | modifier le wikicode]