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The iron fist and the people: Two ways of analysing Africa’s paradoxes

When: Thursday, 22 February 2018 - Thursday, 22 February 2018
Where: Braamfontein Campus East
Seminar Room, Humanities Graduate Centre, Southwest Engineering
Start time:11:00

The NRF/British Academy Chair in Political Theory will host a public lecture by Dr Paulo Faria, Universidade Agostinho Neto.

African states reflect complex past and present political trajectories. This can be understood as entailing four interconnected dynamics and processes: first, a mix of hasty decolonisation processes; second, the battleground of fierce proxy wars; third, ideological struggles for the balance of power; and fourth, the rule of perennial autocratic systems sustained by domestic, international, state and non-state actors. On the one hand, this has deterred the blossoming of civic rights and rule by law, and on the other hand, fed into narratives about the paradox of plenty, social imbalances, and institutional decay as undermining the struggle of African states to guarantee basic political, social and economic rights to citizens. Yet, despite enduring power structures that often interlace with repressive impulses within existing regimes, an emerging pattern of change seems to be taking place across the continent. It is hard, however, to foresee whether the efforts to reform the African Union will help to address the gulf between power-holders and the people or fall prey to a complex web of vested interests. This talk is based on a paper that attempts to tackle the challenges and opportunities facing the continent.

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