Understanding and mapping local politics

Understanding and mapping local politics

The stream focuses on politics at the sub-national level: in provinces, parliamentary constituencies, villages, towns, suburbs or slums. Important work has been done to conceptualise how actors that cross boundaries of the public/private, state/non-state, democratic/technocratic/traditional, work with and against each other to produce ‘governance’ in Africa. The literature divides crudely between the ideas that actors with different authority claims struggle for control and that legal, institutional and ideational pluralism can create ‘hybrid’ systems lubricated by brokers and intermediaries. Most extant research describes discrete topic areas: water governance, land allocation, policing etc. This stream aims to broaden the focus and ask how we can best conceptualise, map, visualize and analyse relations between players participating in and leveraging power across multiple topics, but within particular geographic settings.

Papers might consider how councilors struggle with MPs to influence local planning processes in which they have no legal role, how both compete with chiefs to claim credit for new infrastructure, all while chiefs involve themselves in Parliamentary candidate selection and local party cadres battle council officials over the allocation of market pitches and bus stands. Can we ever answer the question: who is in charge around here?

Organiser: Alastair Fraser (af22@soas.ac.uk)