This chapter presents extensive empirical work explaining shifts and consequences of the EU’s regional frames regarding West Africa in the last decade. It traces the EU’s internal bureaucratic struggles and institutional reforms that led to the EU’s deconstruction of West Africa into smaller security regions such as the Sahel, and shows how these shifts now undermine and weaken the regional framework based around the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS). By providing new overlapping and thus competing regional imaginaries, the EU contradicts and imperils ECOWAS as the legitimate security actor in West Africa. Exemplifying the benefits of interdisciplinary dialogue, this contribution also outlines the shortcomings of (a-)spatial concepts in IR and turns to critical geography to unpack the struggles over the definition of regional space which must be symmetrically analysed with the struggles over the definition of what security is.
Book Description: This book examines what counts regarding the role and conceptualization of regions in world politics.
It presents a fresh look at which narratives awake, persist, fall dormant or re-emerge amidst diverse interlocking processes of environmental, technological and global political changes. It puts forward a thorough and multidimensional conceptualization of regions as embedded in changing, overlapping environments, and requires more attention to regions’ shifting materiality, temporality and technological underpinnings. Combing the approaches, questions and analyses of Critical IR and Political Geography, it calls for a renewed emphasis on the puzzle of how the contextual environment of regions may become more (or less) multidimensional, or how some aspects of a region’s contextual environment may be mutually constitutive in non-intuitive ways. Ultimately, it sheds light on the politics of regions and the regional scale in international politics in order to overcome the often-underlying territorial fixity of territory and space within IR approaches.