Date: 2015-01-06
Time: 00:00:00
Sent by:
Category: Call for Papers
Subject: Back to the future of political parties in Africa ECAS, 8-10 July, 2015 Paris

Call for papers ECAS, 8-10 July, 2015 Paris


Panel: Back to the future of political parties in Africa


After the discredit caused by authoritarian contexts and the introduction and generalisation of single-party systems, several political scientists pointed out, since the 1990s, the need to recommit to the study of political parties in Africa (Otayek, 1998; Quantin, 2004; Gazibo, 2006). However, the perception of African political parties as fundamentally different from Western parties often made the studies reach a dead end and restricted their analysis in terms of neo-patrimonialism or ethnicism. Therefore, African political parties remain an underexplored subject. On the one side, the development of “politics from below” studies have greatly contributed to a better understanding of the everyday politics and power relationships in African societies. But they have contributed to overshadow institutional and conventional forms of politics, such as political parties. On the other side, the normative approach adopted by transition studies and the large experts’ and democracy builders’ literature clearly focus on the “weaknesses” of political and particularly opposition political parties as electoral machines, but has left many areas understudied , including, among others, ruling parties or “ordinary political time”.


This panel will focus on contemporary methodological and theoretical innovations in the analysis of African political parties by taking into account recent fieldwork findings on mediation (Vannetzel, 2014; Benani-Chraïbi et al., 2005: Zaki, 2007); new technologies in organisation, supervision and campaigning (Ménoret, 2005); comparative approaches; role of opposition in “hybrid” regimes, etc. (Dabène et al. 2012; Van de Walle, 1999). We would like to benefit from a more recent and uninhibited literature anchoring back African political parties to the mainstream literature on Western parties which is itself rejuvenating its approaches on electoral studies and the analysis of political parties and to comparative literature (AÏt-Aoudia, Dézé, 2012; Aït-Aoudia et al., 2011).


Proposals have to highlight their original empirical or theoretical approaches on African political parties. We will particularly welcome multidisciplinary and comparative approaches.


Three areas of research could be preferably but not exclusively given priority:


-                Taking into account the recent disciplinary contributions of history or anthropology and encouraging multidisciplinary approaches (Pitcher, 2012; Quiros, 2014; Pels & Quantin, 2001; Bertrand et al., 2007), the panel will frame its examination of political parties in view of re-anchoring them in a broader political scope and social context. First, we intend to highlight their sociopolitical trajectories and institutionalisation logics. How much can we learn from their sociogenesis processes, their rules and modes of functioning, the emergence of social and political hierarchies within? How does the nature of the regime affect their day-to-day practices? What does “weak party affiliation”, often put forward by democracy builders and researchers, mean in terms of partisanship, political and ideological beliefs but also practices (like transhumance)? In this context, what are the social representations and roles of political parties?


-                Secondly, we will explore the relationships between political parties and social mobilizations, or the so-called “civil society”. How does the literature on parties articulate with the recent larger literature on protest/contest? Do street protests really circumvent the role of traditional parties? How do militant trajectories and the circulation or the multipositionality of activists (between political parties, unions, NGOs etc.) impact on partisan activity? Do strict frontiers between political parties and other social or political institutions exist? Finally, how do political parties lean on civil society organisations for their partisan or electoral purposes?


-                Thirdly, democracy builders’ literature focus mainly on institutions rather than practices. But what about day-to-day party building, mobilisation, leaders’ selection and training? How do donors’ involvement in party building impact on their representation, the eventual standardisation and circulation of their practices, the modes of mobilisation, and supervision?


Proposals have to be submitted online before January 9th 2015 : http://www.ecas2015.fr/bringing-political-parties-back-in-african-studies/


Please note that the ECAS website mentions an earlier draft of the call of papers which had not been updated


For more details or information, convenors can be reached at their individual email address: Emmanuelle Bouilly (emmanuelle.bouilly@yahoo.fr ), Marie Brossier (Marie Brossier < (marie.brossier@pol.ulaval.ca) and Sandrine Perrot (Sandrine.perrot@sciencespo.fr ) before January 9th 2015.



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