EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006


Ethnographies of non-state governance: socialities, orders and expertise

Location Victoria Recital
Date and Start Time 21 Sep, 2006 at 11:30


Karel Arnaut (KULeuven) email
Christian Højbjerg (Aarhus University) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This workshop brings governance through ethnography back into the unstable places that no-war-no-peace situations have yielded. It addresses governance in three registers: socio-economic formations, political orders and interrelations of internal/external expertise.

Long Abstract

When less than ten years ago Shore and Wright (1997) addressed the issue of governance and power, they focused mainly on national governments and policies and their technologies of inspection and control, the rationalities of which a forthcoming anthropology of the present would render visible. Although this was duly situated within local-global dynamics, governance appeared to concern relatively large-scale integrated wholes. Since then the anthropological literature has thematised fragmentation and recomposition in its approaches to myriad states of crisis. This workshop intends to bring governance back into the composite states, the unstable places and social reassemblages that long-term conflict and no-war-no-peace situations have yielded all around the globe. The workshop addresses governance in three registers: socio-economic formations, political orders and interrelations of internal/external expertise. The first focus is on social forms in transformation. Special attention is given to new identities/collectivities, and alternative forms of redistribution and social control, as indexes of self-governance. Secondly, it appears that the very forces perpetuating crises also serve as facilitators to emerging political orders. This awareness of conflict-transformation (Richards) invites ethnographic enquiry into military-economic complexes that recombine old and new forms of authority and variously scaled connections (local and global). Thirdly, over the last years, governance has been partly overtaken by governmentality, exposing subtle ways of assessment (knowledge) and direction (power) internalised at lower levels (populations). In response to this, this workshop focuses on forms of autogovernmentality (Appadurai) including self-expertise, fiscal and mercantile organisation and local empowerment. The ultimate question is how ethnographers enter into this equation of governance, gain access and engage in the exchange of glocal knowledge.


Ethnographies of non-state governance: findings and conjectures

Author: Karel Arnaut (KULeuven)  email
Mail All Authors

Long Abstract

This paper is meant to serve as a position paper for the panel which addresses several aspects of governance in 'no-war-no-peace' and unstable post-conflict situations. The main focus is on three registers of governance: socio-economic formations, political orders, and interrelations of internal and external expertise.

The general purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the recent anthropological literature on the issue of governance in each of the three registers under examination as well as to present preliminary ethnographic data from recent fieldtrips to Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire. The paper concludes by addressing the basic issues of redistribution, citizenship, and development in contexts of non-state governance.

Governance without government: local processes of socio-economic regulation in eastern DRC

Author: Koen Vlassenroot (University of Ghent)  email
Mail All Authors

Long Abstract

This paper starts from the argument that the conflict in eastern Congo has produced a number of important effects on the local social and economic organisation. While the enduring insecurity and political-economic instability have seriously disrupted economic survival mechanisms and have eroded the social fabric, the struggles between armed militias, local elites and ordinary people at the same time have produced a number of important shifts in the way local societies are transformed an regulated. This paper illustrates these new forms of socio-economic regulation in three different contexts in South Kivu: the mining-city of Kamituga, the rebel-controlled region of Bunyakiri and the Moyen Plateau around Uvira.

Governing the African 'borderlands': business and conflict in a Congolese border town

Author: Timothy Raeymaekers (University of Zurich)  email
Mail All Authors

Long Abstract

Recent analysis in crises such as Somalia and the DRC suggests the possibility of new 'orders' to emerge from apparantly chaotic and anarchic circumstances of state collapse. During such situations, novel forms of domination may emerge around the renegotiation of political and economic accountability and control - although not necessarily via the central state. This paper seeks to clarify the role of commercial entrepreneurs in the (trans)formation of political order absent of an overarching state authority. The setting is a small border town during the process of political 'transition' in the DR Congo (1999-2003).

Governance in the hinterland of Africa's weak states: toward a theory of the mediated state

Author: Kenneth Menkhaus (Davidson College)  email
Mail All Authors

Long Abstract

Mounting evidence suggests that communities living beyond the reach of government are forging impressive informal systems of governance. In some cases the these local governance systems are brokering deals with state authorities which are willing but not able to govern in their froniter zone, leading to the rise of "mediated states" in some of Africa's failed states. This paper draws on both recent fieldwork by the author and recent research by others to examine comparatively the dynamics and features of the mediated state as an important but poorly understood system of governance in Africa.

Recurrent violence and changing forms of governance in a West African frontier zone

Author: Christian Højbjerg (Aarhus University)  email
Mail All Authors

Long Abstract

The paper proposes a comparative analysis of local, national and internationally mediated forms of military and political governance in the war-torn border region between Liberia and Guinea in West Africa. Based on recent fieldwork in both countries by the author, it argues that in order to understand the divergent, emerging forms of governance in the studied area, one must consult both the historical documentation of socio-economic processes, including belligerent events, and local people's memories of the past. Special attention is accorded to economic and marital exchange relations, real or imagined, that bind and separate distinct social groups who have co-existed in a more or less peaceful way during the last century or more. This empirical focus, furthermore, raises the question as to the relevance of 'exchange theory' for the ethnography of non-state governance.

The paper also takes account of the role of state and non-state, international actors and institutions in a period of uncertain, sub-regional political transformation.