The Spatial Production of an “Ungoverned” and Fragmented Libya

Debora V. Malito, Muhammad Dan Suleiman

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Since the overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s sovereignty has undergone a dramatic process of fragmentation and dispersion of central authority. A plethora of actors, cities, municipalities and local-based militias are playing a growing role in the formation of the post-2011 Libyan political system. Libyan cities and regions have become agents of decentralisation; the authority has been polarised around an East–West divide, often interpreted as the result of a re-emergence of tribal and regional sub-national collective identities. However, essentialist explanations cannot explain the systemic nature of this fragmentation, the overlap of strategies of homogenisation and fragmentation at work in contemporary conflicts over states, institutions and resources. How can we conceptualise the fragmentation of authorities that emerged in Libya in a way that allows us to take into consideration the broader and deeper spatiality of the politics involved? This chapter focuses on the role of simultaneous strategies of political and social control, homogenisation and fragmentation in the construction of the post-Jamahiriya political space. The chapter defines the production of the post-Jamahiriya political space by focusing on NATO’s regime change and the arguments within the first elected parliament, the General National Congress (GNC). We assert that Libyan soil has been strategically forged as an “ungoverned space” in need of external intervention while simultaneously subjected to a dialectical process of fragmentation and homogenisation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMediterranean in Dis/order: Space, Power, and Identity
PublisherUniversity of Michigan Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780472055838
ISBN (Print)9780472075836
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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