The key importance of the peripheral areas of a frontier-state should be self-evident. At the same time, the history of the geographic margins of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania largely explains their successive fluctuation and their recent location in a manner that, in legal terms, is definitive. In addition, Mauritania is balanced between North and South in Africa such that its identity as a bridge between Black Africa and the Arab World is open to question. One of the most interesting of such questions is to establish how the state has responded, in political, social and economic terms to the double threats of balkanisation and isolation which have dominated its history in contemporary and earlier times. In the North, the Saharan conflict and its potential outcome weigh heavily on the evolution of acute aspects of domestic and foreign policy. In the South and in the East, patterns of events are not self-evident and the social life of frontier regions - smuggling, conflict, communication and the dual loyalties of populations - provide them with an ambiguous nature that sometimes results in violence, as emerged in the conflict with Senegal. This article seeks to confront these issues both in general terms and in terms of their geopolitical and domestic significance for Mauritania. It will draw on historical research and current sociological investigation in analysing significant political events that have had an effect on contemporary Mauritania.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Political Science and International Relations