The term ‘neoliberalism’ has become synonymous with the historical trajectory that saw the ‘end’ of labor and the dominance of finance capital. In the Global North, the neoliberal project defined itself by means of the deconstruction of the Keynesian welfare state. Writing on Africa’s post-colonial experience, scholars often portray the neoliberal transition as foremost an ideological project that seeks to reconfigure social relations around the free market. It is, henceforth, less straightforward than merely “rolling back” the state via market-friendly economic policies and austerity measures like price liberalization brought on by the structural adjustment programs of the 1980s.

A renewed interest in theorizing the neoliberal project has emerged in recent years. Following both the scope and scale of central banks’ responses to the pandemic, as well as the emerging popularity of authoritarian and antidemocratic politics, scholars have begun to question whether or not these events signal the end of neoliberal governance and subject-formation. This panel adds to this debate by exploring both new and ongoing ways that African neoliberalisms have deviated from its ‘ideal type’ or the ways that new development strategies and forms of governance have departed from ‘actually existing’ African neoliberalism.

We welcome proposals from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and methodologies that seek to think through deviations and departures from the neoliberal project in Africa (both prior to and in lieu of COVID-19). Topics include, but are not restricted to the following:
— Comparative analyses or histories of the development of policies used to (de)construct markets relations on the continent
— Theoretical inquiries into the forms of governance that sustain newly constructed economic relations
— Ethnographies of the forms of subject-making that reflect or oppose market values and market-oriented governmentalities
— Explorations in new relations between, or new configurations of, labor and finance
— Critiques or analyses on the logics undergirding the contemporary “end of neoliberalism” discourse

Please send your abstract/proposal (200 words max) to Sarah and/or Nicholas by March 10th. Our contact details are below.

Nicholas Abrams
[email protected]

Sarah O’Sullivan
[email protected]