Event Date and time: Tuesday 13th June, 2017 | 18:00–19:30

Venue details: Lecture Hall, British Academy | 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5AH

Organisers: The Royal African Society | British Institute in Eastern Africa

Event website: The moral economy of elections in Africa: Research from Ghana, Kenya and Uganda 

Event cost: Free

Since the 1950s, elections by secret ballot and adult suffrage have lain at the heart of both dreams and fears about Africa’s possible futures – and have sparked continuing debates. Will the vote transform governance, teaching citizenship and making governments accountable? Will unscrupulous politicians stoke ethnic and sectarian hatred, sparking chaos? Or are elections merely a show for an international audience, a threadbare disguise for authoritarian rulers? The results of a major ESRC-funded project suggest that the universal secret ballot is much more embedded in popular ideas of authority than sceptics would argue. But the research has also shown that the ballot has not had any uniform or transformative effect on citizenship; and that elections themselves are not always what they seem. Elections are nominally constructed through law and regulation; they are made of paper, and process. Yet the behaviour of voters, candidates and officials is shaped by expectations and attitudes that make demands, and impose constraints,  quite distinct from –  and even contradictory to – the formal rules. This lecture explores the emergence, nature and significance of these moral economies of elections.


Nic Cheeseman:  Professor of Democracy and International Development at Birmingham University

Gabrielle LynchProfessor of Comparative Politics at the University of Warwick

Justin Willis: Professor of Modern African History at the University of Durham

Dr George Bob-Milliar: Senior Lecturer at the Department of History and Political Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

The event is free and open to all but spaces are limited. To avoid disappointment please register on Eventbrite.


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