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ECAS 2019. Africa: Connections and Disruptions

(Pol11)
Relocating the state in rural Africa
Location
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]
Sessions [TBD]

Convenors

  • Sabine Planel (Institut de recherche pour le développement) email
  • Florence Brisset-Foucault (IMAF, Paris 1 Sorbonne) email

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Short abstract

Rural dwellers act as citizens and contribute to State formation. We seek to examine the evolutive and localised dimension of State power in rural areas: what have been the local social forces that have been driving its formation? What is the endogenous basis for the politicization of rural places?

Long abstract

The presence of the State in rural Africa cannot be reduced to central governments' capacity or willingness to cover the national territory: endogenous social dimensions must be considered. Rural dwellers act as citizens and contribute to State formation, nowadays and before. We seek to document the social and material foundations of the presence and the forms of the State in rural contexts: what are the local social forces that have been driving its formation? What is the endogenous basis of the politicization of rural places? To what extent and under which social conditions or agrarian contexts are they connected to the central State? We invite contributors to study the changing/historical and localised dimension of State power in rural areas.

We intend to question some stereotypes associated to rural African spaces. May they be considered as a-political we then invite to unravel various modalities of their politicisation (past or present); may they be considered as the origin of a democratic tradition, or as the cradle of authoritarianism, we encourage to examine the localised dimensions of political control and dissent. This panel addresses the scalar dimension of political spaces, their cross relationships, their embeddedness or mutual exclusion. It will observe resistances and local adaptations to cope with the State, to take advantage of its presence/resources or to escape from its authority. Against top-down, homogenising narratives, we welcome deeply empirically informed contributions on different dimensions of the formation of the State and the politicisation of rural places: social, moral and economic.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Legitimation as spatialized practice: state-like territoriality in rural Tanzania

Author: Kathy Dodworth (University of Edinburgh) email
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Short abstract

Public authority demands the legitimation of power in the everyday. This paper looks at two spatial manifestations of (state) legitimation, extensity and territoriality, as well as rural residents' roles in the state formation process, whether that of co-production, collaboration or contestation.

Long abstract

Public authority, in the classical Weberian sense, is the legitimated exercise of power that seeks forms of behaviour or compliance (1968; also Bulkeley 2012; Lake 2010; Lund 2006), as part of the will to govern. What, empirically does such legitimation consist of in the everyday? In responding to this question, this paper first theorizes legitimation as spatialized practice: the accumulative making of claims. Such claims are appraised, negotiated and contested by their intended audiences at various scales. Secondly, it examines legitimation practices on the part of government and non-governmental actors in one remote ward in coastal Tanzania, as they operate in the margins between global and local; national/international; public/private and indeed state/non-state. In doing so, this paper brings two particularly spatialized practices to the fore: 'extensity' and 'territoriality'. Extensity comprised state-like claims to be present at scale and in depth in all areas of the district, often via local representatives. Countervailing extensity, however, comprised more territorialized practices in constructing and maintaining an exclusionary 'turf' (Sikor & Lund 2009, p14) or 'terrain' (Elden 2010). Both of these practices have local residents at their core, whether through relations of co-production, collaboration or contestation vis-à-vis state formation. The paper explores how territoriality and extensity, whilst assumed more congruous at the level of the state, are not necessarily so at sub-national levels. They are characterized by different practices, actors and symbolic capital in crafting the space to govern in rural Tanzania.

Experiencing the distant state from the margins: councillors, smallholders and neo-endogenous transformation in rural Ghana

Author: Matthew Sabbi (University of Bayreuth) email
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Short abstract

Representing rural constituency comes at personal and material cost to councillors. Despite the strains, rural councillors skillfully enhance their political capital while mobilizing rural voters to diversify their livelihood and participate in public action.

Long abstract

Urban political elites remain the focus of attention and research on municipal and local authorities. This trend neglects strategies of councillors who represent rural folks. At the same time specific case studies on processes of rural representation are generally missing. This study from rural Ghana shows that smallholder farmers vote not only for local services. They also vote in expectation that councillors support their farming needs. Apart from costs incurred from debts for unpaid loans to smallholders, rural councillors must negotiate, on behalf of smallholders, with municipal agricultural boards and officials for farm implements, seedlings and extension services. Negotiations involve committing personal resources (e.g. money and farm produce) into 'getting the ears' of powerful municipal executives in the capitals. These extra roles strain councillors and limit interest in the position of rural councillor. Nonetheless, such interventions and linkages do not only enhance the political capital of councillors, they also change economic capabilities of smallholders significantly. Councillor-farmers who mobilize smallholders, register them into farmers associations, coordinate loans and payment schemes greatly enhance smallholders' negotiation position with state and external actors. Smallholders diversify their livelihoods against precarity while being empowered to participate in local public action.

Chefferie villageoise et représentativité de l'Etat en pays bété, Côte d'Ivoire

Author: Léo Montaz (Paris-Descartes / IRD) email
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Short abstract

Les chefferies villageoises en pays bété connaissent d'importantes mutations depuis la colonisation. Cette communication souhaite les analyser à travers trois axes : le lien entre chefferie et Etat, les recompositions des chefferies avec le multipartisme et les tensions qu'elles suscitent.

Long abstract

L'organisation en chefferie fut actée en pays bété en 1934. Depuis cette date, les chefs de village sont le dernier échelon reconnu par l'État en zone rurale. Cependant, cette figure du chef de village n'a jamais trouvé de réelle légitimité dans cette région car ses fonctions entrent en concurrence avec celles des autorités coutumières, en particulier les aînés de lignage et les maîtres des terres. La question de la constitution des chefferies est également sensible, alors que c'est au chef que revient la prérogative de désigner les "notables" du village, ceux qui siègent à ses côtés lors des audiences villageoises.

À partir de données issues de terrains ethnographiques dans deux villages bété entre 2012 et 2018, je souhaiterais questionner les transformations progressives de cette instance. Cela permet d'abord d'interroger les tensions intracommunautaires dans les villages (entre lignages, mais aussi entre aînés et cadets) alors que la littérature récente sur la Côte d'Ivoire s'est surtout focalisée sur les oppositions autocthones-étrangers. L'analyse des chefferies apporte ensuite un éclairage sur les stratégies de « contournement » de l'État, car ces instances, malgré les tensions qu'elles suscitent, restent les plus mobilisées en cas de conflits fonciers et évitent aux acteurs de se rendre en justice ou en sous-préfecture. Enfin, analyser les recompositions progressives des chefferies, notamment à partir de la fin des années 1980, me semble particulièrement enrichissant tant elles sont corrélées aux demandes plus globales en faveur du multipartisme, mais aussi à l'évolution des figures de la réussite dans la société ivoirienne contemporaine.

The political ethnography of one party-state in Mozambique-: The case of Frelimo since indepenence

Author: Régio Conrado (SciencesPo Bordeaux) email
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Short abstract

This communication aims to analyze how the party-state, the Frelimo, since independence, legitimates its power through the judicial administration in rural areas and its social organizations

Long abstract

The studies on administrations and the state in Africa has, on the one hand, focused heavily on elites and its failures, and on the other, has neglected the penetration and the politization of administration, the formation of the state and the way one party-state works to dominate in this rural areas. This theoretical problem is also accompanied by a methodological problem. These works, except for some, have not analyzed the concrete functioning of these administrations in rural areas. For that reason, they do not restore the various forms of state formation and the bureaucratization of the African rural societies, in everyday life. That said, this work aims, through the ethnography of the work of a judge in a rural court and the making of law and justice by the social organizations of Frelimo, in the extreme north of Mozambique, to question how the state-party Frelimo, in power since the independence in 1975, works. We will try to answer two questions: How and to what extent does the work of the judge in these areas contribute to the formation of the party-state and the political legitimacy of Frelimo? What kind of relationship between the administration and society is constructed, in a context where the ruling party organisations monopolize the social framework To answer these questions, we will restore some elements of our fieldwork carried out, as part of our thesis, in the north of Mozambique, from June 2017 to March 2018 and from July 2018 to September 2018.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.