Politics, governance and law in Africa: Exploring connections

Politics, governance and law form a triangle of themes defining power and the production of power. The themes constitute a crucial domain in African societies and economies, reinvigorated by contemporary new forms of youth politics across the continent. Features of political institutions and networks, local socio-political structures, trust communities and law frameworks combine to form patterns of ‘political culture’ that can provide the basis for the expression of ‘the political’ and for people to act on their values, framing political preferences and goals. Power and politics play out on various levels, from state to local community, and combine in various registers, both institutionally and culturally. This Collaborative Research Group wants to explore the interactive processes that shape African political and governance patterns and socio-cultural formations that issue from the political communication, competition of interests, formal and customary legal structures, and from norms and ideas of ‘group’ and ‘self’. There is a continued need to understand the historicity, long-term trends and contexts of governance and contestation, as well as of the situated practices of power. Comparative theoretical appraisal is part of this venture, integrating African case studies into research and debates on global political structures and dynamics.

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Researchers involved in this completed CRG were Jan Abbink (convenor), Mayke Kaag and Lidewyde Berckmoes.