The politics and policies of mobilization in authoritarian regimes: producing domination and consent
Date and Start Time 30 June, 2017 at 14:00
This panel investigates the mobilization facet of authoritarianism. It focuses on what mobilization reveals about the dynamics of domination and consent by shedding light on the projects, narratives and institutions involved as well as the way people react within these contexts.
Research on authoritarian regimes has been renewed since the beginning of the decade, as authors started to highlight the mitigated impact of the third wave of democratization and the multiplication of regimes mixing authoritarian and democratic features (Levistky and Way 2002, Diamond 2002). Scholars have especially investigated the role nominally democratic institutions such as elections and legislatures play in authoritarian resilience (Gandhi 2009, Brownlee 2007). This emphasis however did not lead to stimulate research around processes of political mobilization, still generally perceived as either limited to specific moments of the regime's development (Linz 2000) or only related to the production of electoral turnout. This issue has consequently been sparsely investigated, despite some studies demonstrating that autocrats do invest in policies aimed at popular mobilization beyond election time (Wedeen 1999, Hibou 2006), often with disciplinary effects. This panel therefore aims to bring the focus back on the mobilization facet of authoritarian politics and political culture and investigates what it reveals about the dynamics of domination and consent. The panel welcomes contributions based on empirical data that explore this issue and look at the way people - the rulers, segments of the population who are mobilized (the youth, women, ethnic or religious minorities etc.), and the people who implement those policies - (re)act within these contexts. It discusses, amongst other themes, the projects, narratives and institutions involved, their articulation with the dominant party or the administration, the perceptions and practices of the implementors as well as the continuities and changes with the previous regimes.
Chair: Anne-Laure Mahé
Discussant: Cyrielle Maingraud-Martinaud
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Capturing the powerful: bottom up cooptation in authoritarian Uganda
With Uganda as a case study, we argue that in competitive authoritarian regimes, not only are particular social groups mobilized through clientelistic practices and patronage but public servants and political elites also get coopted and mobilized by social groups and special interests “bottom up”.
As the literature has widely illustrated, authoritarian regimes resort to a variety of means to stay in power and deter opponents. Typically, mobilization and de-mobilization are portrayed as top down strategies instrumentally applied by a political elite, which is largely conceptualized as separate from other groups.
In this paper we want to contend this view by providing evidence from our research on informal social networks in Uganda. Our research shows that it is not only elites that coopt, mobilize and capture clienteles in a top down fashion, but that elites and public sector officials can also get coopted bottom up by social groups and special interests.
Informal social networks are greatly valued in Uganda, they operate on the basis of reciprocity and a sense of obligation towards the group on the part of all the members. Our research shows how these obligations are perceived as binding and tied to social status and respect with the result that deference to group demands and expectations very often supersede considerations to the formal legal framework. Thus, while social contacts are often needed to land a job in the public sector, the beneficiary automatically becomes bound to the demands and obligations towards the network and in this way "coopted" into providing fro the interests of the group. We argue that this pattern goes up all the way to the highest levels of government and make the claim that co-optation and mobilization strategies in competitive authoritarian Uganda consist of both top-down and bottom-up components.
Agricultural policies under contraints. An empirical reading of authoritarianism in rural Ethiopia
This communication explores the politicised dimension of development and its policies of mobilisation. Through agricultural extension policies, and more precisely through the case study of a public debt management, it details voluntary servitude of Ethiopian peasantry.
Even within authoritarian regimes, and especially in the hydride situations of new authoritarianisms (Brooker, 2009), political mobilisation rarely legitimates itself without promoting other objectives: peace keeping, social justice or more generally development. Referring to another goal (tentatively to a non political one) facilitates but also frames the disciplinary effects of popular mobilisation. When it comes to local development, and more specifically to agricultural development, it produces very ambiguous forms of consent and resistance.
The Ethiopian Democratic Developmental State offers a politicised understanding of development and produces through various sectorial public policies a very efficient mobilisation at local level that reinforces political control. This presentation will observe routinized modalities of mobilisation through agricultural extension public policies implemented in rural Ethiopia since the early 2000. It will stresses on their recent evolution after the liberal shift of the Developmental State, more or less after 2011. Based on ethnographic fieldworks and a multi-site enquiry conduced since 2010, the presentation will observe how peasantry consent and resist at the same time to State's pressure. It will specifically focus on their management of the public micro-credit/debt they have been forced to contract. I will then observe that despite the fact that statal, social and agrarian dependencies strengthen domination (Ferguson, 2013) it also enables resisting strategies.
Mobilization in Post-Genocide Rwanda: Itorero and the Intore Warrior as Symbol of the New Man
In Rwanda, the government program Itorero revives an old military institution of the pre-colonial kingdom’s Tutsi elite warriors, Intore (“the chosen ones”). By “building new Rwandan citizens” the program aims at countering the impact of experienced collective violence.
In Rwanda, the state-driven development program, Itorero ry'Igihugu, revives an old military institution (Itorero) of the pre-colonial kingdom's Tutsi elite warriors, Intore ("the chosen ones"). By "building new Rwandan citizens" and a new national community of "chosen people" through civic education and cultural adjustment trainings (promoting a new guiding culture based on "Rwandan values") the program aims at countering the impact of experienced collective violence and inner division to ensure the success of the national development plan, Vision 2020. Introduced as an endogenous instrument for post-genocide national rehabilitation Itorero ry'Igihugu targets the entire population and is currently the most far-reaching governmental program, and the first one aimed at profound societal transformation through a new interpretation of an old tradition.
Drawing on the results of the author's first-hand field research in Rwanda as well as on the historical genesis and local meanings of the tradition, the paper seeks to shed light on the program's own logic of mobilization and societal reconstruction beyond normative views of political practice. It is examined how the government builds on facets and re-interpretations of the tradition and thereby mediates between diverging political orders to meet its objectives. In her contribution, the author examines the program's culture-bound political imagination and practice of mobilization and societal transformation, in which references to the ancient myth of a heroic nation play a central role in creating the image of the new man and a (potentially uniting) vision of a nation.
Adaptive Authoritarianism in South Africa and Rwanda: Political Abjection and the Reproduction of Power in Liminal Hybrid Regimes
Examining the cases of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, we develop the concept of liminal hybrid regimes to explain regimes suspended (potentially indefinitely) in a hybrid status “betwixt and between” authoritarianism and democracy.
The lack of convergence towards liberal democracy and the continued prevalence of hybrid regimes in African countries reflects neither a permanent state of political aberration, nor necessarily a prolonged transitional phase through which countries pass once the "right" conditions are met. We develop the concept of liminal hybrid regimes to explain regimes suspended (potentially indefinitely) in a hybrid status "betwixt and between" authoritarianism and democracy. We examine the cases of two ruling parties: the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. On the one hand, their societies appear caught in a liminal status wherein a transition to democracy and socio economic "revolution" remains forestalled; on the other hand, this liminality is productively used to justify the party's extraordinary mandate characterized by: (a) an idea of an incomplete project of liberation that the party alone is mandated to fulfil through an authoritarian social contract, and (b) the claim that this unfulfilled revolution is continuously under threat by a coterie of malevolent forces (both internal and external), which the party alone is mandated to identify and appropriately sanction. We thus examine the strategies employed by these regimes to maintain their power and we assess the extent to which these parties exhibit similarities with the "responsive" and "adaptive" authoritarianism found in East Asian single-party regimes. (this paper was developed in co-operation with Laura Mann and Alexander Beresford)
"Damned Nile": hydropolitics and authoritarian mobilization in the Nile basin
The paper analyzes the use of massive infrastructural projects, dams in particular, for political mobilization in authoritarian regimes. We take the Nile basin as a case study, proposing a diachronic comparison between the Aswan High Dam and the ongoing project of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The paper focuses on the politics of dam-building as an instrument of political mobilization in authoritarian regimes. It takes the Nile basin as a case study, proposing a diachronic comparison between the construction of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt during the 1960s and the current realization of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Since the coining of the term "hydropolitics" by John Waterbury in 1979, an ample literature has examined the subject from the perspective of international relations, however neglecting the domestic determinants and uses of hydropolitics.
Post-independence governments in Africa and Asia have often portrayed dams as a shortcut to industrialization and food self-sufficiency. The "hydraulic mission" has provided ruling classes with a unique tool to mobilize the masses, repress dissent and extract material resources.
Therefore, while water management is often presented by political élites as a merely technical issue, it is an inherently political field of action in terms of Foucaultian gouvernmentalité.
Analyzing the narrative deployed by the ruling classes, our comparison is aimed at understanding if and how the political exploitation of such huge national projects has changed in the course of a half-century, given the deeply mutated regional and international context. While the Aswan High Dam affair was rooted in both decolonization and cold war dynamics, the building of the GERD recalls the typical authoritarian-technocratic formula of "developmentalism".
Archive research has been conducted regarding the Aswan High Dam, while field research in Egypt and Ethiopia has been undertaken with reference to the GERD.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.