3. Unevenness and Exclusion Examining the Dynamics of Scales and Scope of Governance

E-mail of panel organiser: anders.sjogren@nai.uu.se

The way state power is organised and exercised can everywhere be expected to differ across the national territory and between formal levels. Unevenness of state power is also likely to interplay with varieties of less formalised modes of political power; together this creates significant differences in modes of governances. Such unevenness is very pronounced in Africa due to regional divergence in socio-economic development and legacies of indirect rule and fragmented state forms, created under colonialism and furthered after independence.

Differences in development trajectories and in the scope and scale of the effective presence of state power often result in real and perceived political exclusion along different lines. All of the above carries crucial implications for democracy, for the national question and for political stability.

This panel seeks to interrogate the causes, processes and consequences of these issues by examining cases from across the continent. It welcomes both theoretical and empirical contributions. Comparative efforts, be it through empirical cases or theoretical arguments, are particularly appreciated.


1. Scalar Variations: Identity, Authority and Conflict

Author: Henrik Angerbrandt (Stockholm University, Sweden)


This paper elaborates a framework for analysing the ways in which ethnic and religious conflicts are constructed by actors with reference to scale, e.g. local, national and global dimensions. It furthermore makes a distinction between identity relations and political relations in order to be able to distinguish how these differ in their scalar constructions. This challenges conceptions of ‘community conflicts’ as inherently local. The community aspects, as well as the political aspects, have different scalar references. Analysing the tension between these can give new understanding of the dynamics of a conflict and how political aspects are merged with ethnic and religious aspects in a conflict.

A conception of scale as relational is accordingly suggested, understanding scale as an epistemological concept. As alternative to conceptualise community as ‘the most local scale’, it is argued for an ideal typical notion of the concept. Recognising community as an ideal type with its counterpart society is argued to highlight tensions between community and citizenship. How conflicts are constructed differently with reference to scale is part of contested relations.

The argument is throughout expounded with references to studies of the implementation of Islamic sharia law in Nigeria in the early 2000s. Local and national aspects of the sharia issue tend to be regarded as separate, even though affecting each other. The issue furthermore tends to be analysed according to a community or society logic separately. Either, historical and religious aspects dominate the analysis or, these aspects are disregarded in favour of a focus on strategies in relation to how politics are practiced in Nigeria. Seldom are these perspectives merged and assessed in relation to each other.

2. Half a Century of Peace: Exploring peace in Zambia from a local governance perspective

Author: Johan Brosché (Uppsala University, Sweden)


In 2014, Zambia celebrates half a century as a sovereign country. Throughout this period the nation has been spared from armed conflicts. In contrast, several of its neighboring countries – such as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mozambique – have experienced devastating conflicts. Furthermore, Zambia is characterized by numerous factors that are related to an increased risk for armed conflict such as poverty, political instability, a relatively large population, and abundance of minerals (primarily copper). Still the country has remained at peace for more than 50 years. This paper examines if Zambia’s peace can be explained by local governance factors. First, it investigates if group relations and civic life in Zambia’s communities has influenced political elites to use less polarizing strategies. Second, it examines if effective local conflict-resolution mechanisms can contribute to explaining the prevalent peace.

3. Power relations among institutions of government in Nigeria’s presidential system: Implications for good governance

Authors: Omololu Fagdebo and Suzanne Francis (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)


The principle of separation of powers and the doctrine of checks and balances are the two major mechanisms that define power relations among branches of government in presidential system. Essentially, the primacy of power in governance necessitated the need for institutional control measures to avert disproportionate exercise of power. The assumption of the culture of presidential system is the near absence of personalization of power. Nigeria’s presidential constitution incorporates these measures with essential provisions aimed at ensuring respect for the rule of law. In other words, power relations among the three branches of government are clearly defined to ensure the promotion of good governance. Nevertheless, residual and inherent powers of the executive tower above the other two branches of government. Using disunified elite theory and strategic politician theory, this paper argues that the uneven distribution of powers seems to negate the essence of the system of checks and balance associated with presidential system. Thus, the institutional safety valves seem to be ineffective in the face of primordial interests and other informal considerations among the political elites. Corruption and impunity dominate the activities of the institutions of government while the instruments of checks and balances remain potent avenues for political negotiation. The outcome of this is the preponderance of governance crisis. Since institutional measures remain ineffective in the control of power, competition among political elites for political space endangers good governance. The paper submits that an informed public capable of enforcing accountability is a sine qua non for a redirection of the culture of governance in Nigeria’s presidential system.

4. Territory and identity. The scale and scope of political authority in Africa.

Author: Anders Sjögren (The Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden)


The organisation and exercise of state power anywhere can be expected to differ across the national territory and between formal levels. Such unevenness is very pronounced in Africa due to regional divergence in socio-economic development and legacies of indirect rule and fragmented state forms, created under colonialism and furthered after independence. This paper provides a theoretical overview of these issues with particular attention paid to the implications for political exclusion in terms of different cleavages.

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