Pol03
The inner life of African organizations: Innovative methods and approaches

Convenors:
Linnéa Gelot (Folke Bernadotte Academy)
Ulf Engel (University of Leipzig)
Chair:
Jens Herpolsheimer (U Leipzig); Katharina Döring (U Leipzig)
Stream:
Politics and International Relations
Location:
Appleton Tower, Seminar Room 2.14
Wednesday 12 June, 16:15-18:00

Short abstract:

The panel highlights innovative methods and approaches emanating from the study of African organizations. It features socio-spatial perspectives, insights from the study of militarization, critical approaches to knowledge production, but also welcomes other perspectives African governance processes.

Long abstract:

African organizations - like the African Union, various sub-regional mechanisms, the African Commission for Human and People's Rights, or the African Development Bank - have hitherto predominantly been studied through the lens of rational bureaucratic systems, inspired by assumptions from positivist International Relations traditions. A functionalist overemphasis on structural aspects has overlooked the multi-layered connections between internal/external and public/private actors that shape them and that drive processes of change within them. Oftentimes, events are singled out in a discourse of newness at the expense of analyzing them as junctures embedded within a context of more subtle enduring processes of change, as political effects, or as unintended consequences. This panel brings together contributions that propose innovative methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of African organizations. It discusses and advances fine-grained and granular understandings of African governance processes, whether quantitative or qualitative in nature. It also explores the wider implications of such approaches for the study of international organizations as well as instances of global governance more generally. The panel seeks to reflect on methods and approaches that are sensitive to institutional context as well as actors and reconcile subtle ongoing processes with the often more prominent junctures for change. These may include inter alia socio-spatial perspectives, approaches that highlight individual actors and their networks, transfers and entanglements, as well as reflections on knowledge production and who is included/excluded in the debates that accompany and shape it. Contributions should reflect on methods and approaches while being firmly grounded in empirical research or experiences.