Category: Everyday States

2014-19

Technologies of politics

Africa’s ‘digital revolution’ creates new realities, and provokes fresh thinking, on how power is mobilised, organised and exercised. Social movements, street protests, democratic elections, state authority and economic innovation are enabled and constrained in different ways as communication technologies, new and old, are innovated, imported, adapted and controlled. The BIEA brings its commitment to empirically grounded and multi-disciplinary local scholarship to promote research that builds worldclass knowledge on the digital age in and from the region.

Land, water and belonging in Southern Zimbabwe

Dr Joost Fontein is the Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa.

This project is based on fieldwork carried out since the early 2000s in southern Zimbabwe, examining the ‘political materialities’ of water and land in the politics of belonging, sovereignty, and state-making in the context of Zimbabwe’s controversial fast track land reform programme. This project led to an international conference and a special issue of JSAS on ‘The Power of Water’ in 2008. Several journal articles have been published from this work and some of this research material, particularly that relating to the role of graves and ruins in contested materialities of belonging, was the subject of his RAI Curl Lecture in September 2009. In that lecture (published in Journal of Royal Anthropoligical Insititute in Dec. 2011),Dr. Fontein engaged with recent debates about anthropology’s so-called ‘ontological turn’, in order to present a case for the value of focusing less on ‘radical ontological difference’ and more on material, historical, political and conceptual proximities.

His new monograph Remaking Mutirikwi: landscape, water and belonging in southern Zimbabwe, will bring this project to a close when it is published in 2015.

Intimacy and Inequality: Women’s Reproductive Labour in Nairobi

Professor Ambreena Manji was Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa from October 2010 to July 2013 and is Professor of Law at Cardiff University in the UK. ([email protected])

This project brings together three distinct bodies of theoretical work: the developing literature on economic inequality and its effects; theoretical writing on the provision and practice of intimate labour; and feminist work on quantifying the value of women’s work in the household. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the unpaid reproductive labour provided by women as wives and mothers. Read more…

Legal Education and Decolonization

Ambreena Manji was Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa from October 2010 to July 2013 and is Professor of Law at Cardiff University in the UK. ([email protected])

The third main focus of my research is on the history of legal education in Africa, with particular reference to the period of decolonization in the 1950s and 60s, a project which has been funded by the Nuffield Foundation and which I have worked on jointly with John Harrington (Senior Research Fellow, BIEA and Cardiff Law School). Our aim has been to document the different proposals for the development of law schools in specific African territories in this period. Read more…

Law in African Literature

Ambreena Manji was Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa from October 2010 to July 2013 and is Professor of Law at Cardiff University in the UK. ([email protected])

A long running strand of my research has concerned portrayals of law in postcolonial African literature. My writing on law and literature seeks to demonstrate how the traditional boundaries between law and the humanities might be transcended. It asks what we can learn about non-state or informal law from the work of African novelists. I have published papers on the novels of the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, the Senegalese author and filmmaker Sembene Ousmane and the Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah. I have also written on the role of the cultural critic in contemporary Africa. Read more…

The Politics of Land Law Reform

Ambreena Manji was Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa from October 2010 to July 2013 and is Professor of Law at Cardiff University in the UK. ([email protected])

I have published widely on the politics of land law reform in East Africa. Topics have included the notable absence of gender as a consideration in Tanzanian land law debates, the subsequent attempt to secure women’s land rights through schemes for statutory spousal co-ownership in Tanzania and Uganda, and the global promotion of individual titling and registration of previously customary land by the World Bank. Read more…

The Culture of Survival; The Survival of Culture

This project examines the history of chiefs’ authority in southern Sudan over the last fifty years. It is driven by the question implied in the title: has an indigenous culture of local authority survived the violence and disruption of decades of war, or has a new culture of authority, born of desperate circumstances, replaced this?

The project is supported financially by BIEA as part of the new programme of research in southern Sudan; Dr Leonardi’s salary and travel costs are paid by Durham, through a grant from the Leverhulme Trust. Read more…

The Politics of representation in Kilifi District, Kenya, 1940-1970

This research project, conducted by the former Director in collaboration with Dr George Gona of the University of Nairobi, picks up on Dr Willis’ long-standing interest in the nature of authority and representation on the coast. The focus of the research is the Mijikenda Union, which flourished briefly in the late 1940s and reemerged in the later 1960s. The research seeks to understand the role of this particularist ethnic association in the context of wider debates over the nature of representation and legitimacy among the Mijikenda.