Political Topographies of the African State in Comparative Perspective
Sub-theme: Development Practice and Discourse
Scholarly writings on the postcolonial African state have long demonstrated a proclivity to both overgeneralization about its nature and character on an almost continent-wide basis and a corresponding tendency to reject the idea that formal institutions are of any relevance to the study of African politics. As a result, Africanist scholars have often struggled to provide institutionalist explanations of variation in African patterns of state-building.

In an attempt to challenge such conceptions of the African state and the politics of African societies, this panel will seek to identify and explain the origins and political effects of the institutional choices made by African state-builders, in hope that such studies will contribute to a more nuanced, comparative appreciation of cross-national variations in African trajectories of postcolonial state-building. In approaching these pivotal issues, this panel operates from the assumption that, far from being fictitious facades, state institutions in Africa crucially help to inform and, at times, shape the behavior and decisions of both state and non-state actors on the continent. Please send an email with your paper proposals to Luke Melchiorre at [email protected] by Noon on March 15th, 2018.