Special issue coordinated by
Corentin Cohen (Sciences Po/CERI, OxPo) and Gernot Klantschnig (University of Bristol)
Deadline for the submission of proposals: 20 April 2020
The trade and consumption of psychoactive products are not new to Africa. There are traces of cannabis cultivation dating from the sixteenth century in Eastern and Southern Africa (Duvall 2016) and records of colonial concern with its cultivation since the 1920s in Nigeria and Ghana. At least since the 1950s the region has started to be used as a transit point by some heroin smugglers (McCoy 1991) and in subsequent decades there have been reports of a clear increase in the volume of cocaine trafficking from Latin America. This has made West Africa into a socalled global hub, a place of transit for more than a third of cocaine exports to Europe and a « new » space of consumption for drugs, such as synthetic opioids (UNODC 2006, 2008, 2017, 2018). Existing data regarding heroin and crack show that consumption has also increased locally while amphetamine production capacities have developed in Nigeria and Guinea Conakry (UNODC 2012).
Most of the existing literature has been discussing these developments from state and security perspectives. Fueled by sensationalistic media reports and the proliferation of discourses on « narco jihadism », part of the literature has also borrowed from the paradigm of failed states and has thus described « weak », « fragile » or « destabilized » states as engulfed by the drug trade (Sindzingre 2001 ; Felbab-Brown 2010 ; McGuire 2010). In particular, Guinea-Bissau has been described as a « narco state » (Chabal and Green 2016), a concept that has little analytical value regarding the importance of illicit economies for the state and the role of illicit activities in countries, such as Afghanistan, Colombia, Guinea Bissau, and Morocco, but which has nonetheless gained traction in the African context (Chouvy 2016).