This one day conference will examine elections in central and southern Africa. Elections in the region are marked by powerful and even paradoxical dynamics of participation and exclusion. Ostensible rituals of mass participation and of legitimation by civil power, electoral successes in the countries of the region have generally made recourse to forms of exclusionary violence during the campaign. And while representative democracies often use mass participation in electoral rituals to legitimate the subsequent exclusion of the demos from the political process, in central and southern Africa this is brought out in an especially acute fashion. For example, many of those who play an active role in electoral campaigns – most especially young men and women from the lowest socio-economic groups – are invariably those who are most excluded by governments brought to power by such campaigns. Looking at papers of a generally ethnographic nature the conference will seek look at elections as part of a complex, oft misunderstood political phenomena in their own right rather than as staging posts en route to a normative conception of democracy.
Convened by Dr Joe Trapido, Anthropology & Sociology Department, SOAS.
Organised by SOAS Centre of African Studies, in conjunction with the British Academy.
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