ISSN / EISSN : 0002-0397 / 1868-6869
Published by: SAGE Publications (10.1177)
Total articles ≅ 377
Latest articles in this journal
Africa Spectrum; https://doi.org/10.1177/00020397211050080
A protracted conventional knowledge within mainstream International Relations (IR) has been that African agents (states, organizations, and diplomats) are consumers of international norms and practices designed in the affluent countries of the Global North. Papers in this special issue present a challenge to this view; they discuss the active role and the influence of African actors in international politics and renew a call for the development of IR theories, concepts, and methods that reflect Global Southern and African experiences, ideas, institutions, actors and processes.
Africa Spectrum; https://doi.org/10.1177/00020397211049812
Africa Spectrum, Volume 56, pp 194-215; https://doi.org/10.1177/00020397211031915
What do non-electoral turnovers tell us about the relationship between elections, executive turnover, and democratisation? Can they contribute to democratisation? To gain insight into these questions, we consider the experiences of Southern Africa. While transfers of executive authority have become commonplace in Southern Africa, they do not necessarily coincide with elections and rarely involve partisan turnover. Neither the mode nor the form of executive turnover corresponds clearly with prior assessments of democracy. This study examines recent non-electoral turnovers in Zimbabwe (November 2017), South Africa (February 2018), and Botswana (April 2018). This research finds that non-electoral transfers of presidential authority in Southern Africa represent efforts by dominant parties to manage factional conflicts and enhance their ability to benefit from incumbency in competitive elections. While non-electoral turnover in executive authority might promote democracy under some conditions, they do more to sustain dominant party rule and a stagnate level of low-capacity democracy.
Africa Spectrum, Volume 56, pp 172-193; https://doi.org/10.1177/00020397211030934
Previous literature suggests that some African parties employ non-valence positional issues in their party platforms and that this practice is more prevalent in some countries than in others; however, no quantitative research has analysed the electoral effects of non-valenced campaigns. How do African voters perceive parties’ policy positions? Who uses party platforms to choose candidates? Using data from an original survey experiment conducted in Nairobi, we examine voter perceptions of party platforms and their behaviour in the 2017 Kenyan presidential elections. We find that the opposition party’s clearer messaging helps average voters recognise and characterise the party, compared to the incumbent’s moderate policy stance. Moreover, while both parties’ policy positions positively affect voting, non-partisan voters are more likely to support a candidate advocating moderate policies. This implies an incumbency advantage: incumbents’ broad-appeal strategies help maximise their votes, whereas opposition parties have limited strategy options.
Africa Spectrum; https://doi.org/10.1177/00020397211034524
Africa Spectrum, Volume 56, pp 127-150; https://doi.org/10.1177/00020397211025986
In recent decades, musicians have figured prominently on Africa’s political stage. Popular Ugandan musician Bobi Wine moved beyond protest singer and ventured into politics by entering parliament in 2017 and challenging long-term President Yoweri Museveni at the presidential polls in 2021. To push for social change, Wine created the People Power movement and built an alliance with fellow musicians. This article studies Wine’s movement and his alliance with musicians by taking a political economy approach. I posit that the political activism of musicians reaches its limits when a sitting government can easily threaten the economic base of its oppositional challengers. Alliances become fragile once the government can demonstrate that challenging a ruling elite has severe consequences for one’s livelihood whereas aligning with the government ensures economic prosperity. The article uses ethnographic data, interviews, and newspaper articles to demonstrate this argument.
Africa Spectrum, Volume 56, pp 151-171; https://doi.org/10.1177/00020397211023513
Education policy can embed ethnic inequalities in a country. Education in Burundi, with its historically exclusive political institutions and education, represents an important case for understanding these interactions. In this article, I interview twelve Burundians about how they experienced and perceived ethnicity and politics in their schooling from 1966 to 1993. I argue that education contributed to tangible and perceived social hierarchies based on ethnic inequalities. I show that this exclusion reflected both overt and covert policy goals, through proxies used to identify ethnicity in schools and through the exclusive nature of national exams at the time, which promoted members of the Tutsi minority at the expense of the majority Hutus. This study has implications for understanding how perceptions of inequality in education manifest as grievances against the state. It sheds light on the importance of understanding covert education policy as a potential mechanism for generating exclusion and contributing to conflict.
Africa Spectrum; https://doi.org/10.1177/0002039720984481
This article investigates how practitioners in the West African Health Organization (WAHO) obtain and exercise autonomous political agency in the development of regional health policy. While many process-driven accounts of African agency focus on the freedom and ability of African governments and regional organisations to act and not be acted upon, the article finds that it is necessary look within these agents to examine how they are constituted and the processes in which they acquire the capacity to be agents in their external interactions. This article shows that practitioners in WAHO rely on three institutional strategies that constitute them as agents within the organisation: networking with extra-regional partners; the inclusion of civil society in regional social policy; and the development of intra-organisational linkages to create insulation from political control. Through these strategic interactions, WAHO practitioners constitute themselves as agents within the organisation as well as autonomous agents in the broader global health theatre.
Africa Spectrum; https://doi.org/10.1177/0002039721990394
Conventional narratives suggest that the African Union Commission (AUC), like most international public administrations and international organisations (IOs) housed in the less materially endowed regions of the world, exercises no meaningful agency on international issues. This article however seeks to show that the AUC is neither a glorified messenger and docile follower of orders of governments nor is it an empty vessel that timidly goes where the wind of governments blows. Rather, the AUC exercises significant agency on issues that affect not just the African continent but also the broader international system. The AUC is often at the heart of international agenda-setting, norm development, decision-making, rule creation, policy development, and it sometimes offer strategic leadership. The article demonstrates six pathways through which the AUC acts like a tail wagging a dog.
Africa Spectrum; https://doi.org/10.1177/0002039721991151
African countries are well recognised as being among the worst affected by the impacts of climate change. However, efforts to secure recognition of these “special circumstances” of African countries within the UN climate negotiations have been unsuccessful, despite this being a continental priority prior to and following adoption of the Paris Agreement. Such status is linked to global priorities for funding adaptation to climate change. This article explores why some other groups of developing countries have been successful in securing such recognition when African countries have not. It provides a historical institutionalist explanation of the path-dependent politics of such institutional recognition, emphasising the timing of when different groups have advanced vulnerability claims, which shapes the opposition that African countries have encountered in their efforts, as relative late-movers, to exercise agency. It highlights contestation surrounding what “vulnerability” to climate impacts means, and how this contestation has divided Global South solidarity.