The panel aims to stimulate a discussion, both theoretical and empirically grounded, on the concept of "moral economy/ies" (from its original formulations to its recent revival) and its relevance for the study of economic institutions and processes, markets and moralities in urban and rural Africa.
Since its original formulation by Thompson (1971), the concept of "moral economy" has fueled debates on resistance, the State and (non)capitalist economies. By dissecting the ways in which market capitalism and State bureaucratic control have imposed themselves in different historical and geographical contexts, and the various forms of resistance and circumvention they have met, the concept has been instrumental in the critique of mainstream developmentalist accounts. Its recent revival, in a more pluralistic sense (e.g. Fassin, 2009), has been facilitated by the so-called "ethical turn" in the social sciences, particularly in anthropology, with a renewed interest for the study of moralities. The aim of this panel is to stimulate a discussion on the concept of "moral economy/ies" from an African(ist) perspective. From early descriptions of local markets and subsistence economies, through analyses of agrarian transformation and capitalist expansion, until critical development studies and debates on neoliberalism, the literature on African economies has nourished broader discussions on local connectedness to global capitalism, deviation from the homo oeconomicus paradigm, and social embeddedness of economic institutions. Participants to this panel are welcome to offer empirically grounded contributions on the relevance of the "moral economy" concept for the analysis of both urban and rural economic sectors and market(place)s in Africa. Ethnographic cases can focus, among other topics, on competing moralities in the economic arena, the construction of moral subjectivities in relation (and opposition) to the market economy, or resistance and mobilization for economic rights.