chapter  3
26 Pages

Local agony and competition for authority

ByChristopher Marc Lilyblad

In and around contemporary fragile spaces, conflict persists precisely because illicit authority, despite exhibiting de facto authority and internal rule, does not recognize state authority as legitimate – and vice versa. Accordingly, the purpose here is to develop an instrumental analytical framework for understanding how authority is constituted in territories demarcated by illicit social order, despite often being confronted with violent repression and hostility by sovereign states. The chapter begins with a conceptual discussion of authority that distinguishes illicit authority, particularly when it controls territory, from other forms of state and non-state authority. Thereafter, a core theoretical claim that simultaneously informs and derives from the empirical research presented in Part III stipulates that authority is co-constitutively produced if an indeterminate actor-type concomitantly asserts predominance in three domains within a given territory; namely, coercive violence, socioeconomic resources, and social legitimation. Delineating these domains thus outlines areas where actors – state and non-state, public and private – compete for authority and governance within territories, even though the processes by which they arrive at fulfilling these functional domains will necessarily differ. Finally, the chapter suggests that because illicit authority, as conceived here, supersedes territorial-sovereignty and its ‘public shadow of hierarchy’ by assuming ‘public’ functions, it is perhaps misplaced as a sub-category of ‘private’ authority. Illicit authority is therefore perhaps better treated as a category of its own, in which case it would transcend the proverbial public-private divide.