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Course Description

The term ‘fragile state’ is often used uncritically to refer to states whose governments are unable to maintain a monopoly of violent force within their borders, who are either unable or unwilling to provide security and services for their citizens, and whose unmonitored territory is likely to be used for the purposes of international terrorism. This course seeks to unpack the term, considering why and by whom it is used. It focuses student discussion around the core issue of state sovereignty and its many practical contradictions. It considers root and/or structural causes of so-called fragility and puts these into historical perspective, using postcolonial and gender lenses. In addition, it assesses contributors towards the continuation of ‘fragility’ and how these are measured. Bringing in examples from international aid policy, it analyses documents such as the 2011 ‘New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States’ and considers the impacts of such commitments both on a macro level, and from the perspectives of those for whom state fragility is a daily, lived experience.

This is a virtual synchronous course that follows the published schedule of course meetings and requires attendance at all sessions. Tufts virtual courses are designed to provide high-quality, flexible, and interactive courses to Tufts and visiting students. For more information about virtual course policies and expectations, please visit

Basic Enrollment Requirements: Unofficial Transcript – Bachelor’s Degree or progress towards a Bachelor’s Degree + 3.0 GPA.

Instructor Approval: Not Required.

Remission Eligible: Yes; first day of term; all university policies apply.

Refund Policy: Hybrid Course Policy

*Please note: this section is not open to high school students

Affiliated With:

School of Arts & Sciences