Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا

Re-thinking State and Democracy in Africa

19–21 September 2007, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Number of visits: 1778

The Council for the Development of Social Science Since
1992, CODESRIA has organised annual thematic institutes
targeted at younger researchers and mid-career scholars
mainly located in universities and research centres in Africa.
Over the period since then, the number of thematic
institutes organised by the Council has grown, as has the
number of scholars invited on an open competitive basis to
participate in them. Beginning with the Governance Institute,
the institutes hosted by the Council have grown over
the years to include the Gender Institute, the Humanities
Institute Programme, the Child and Youth Studies Institute,
and the Institute on Health, Politics and Society. Plans are
afoot, within the framework of the CODESRIA Strategic
Plan for the period 2007 to 2011, to introduce two addition
institutes, one on Development Economics and the other
on The Social Sciences and ICTs.

With an average of 15 laureates participating every year
in each of the existing institutes hosted by the Council, the
programme has produced hundreds of alumni from the
different sessions held. A majority of the alumni have remained
within the African higher education system where
many have also grown in seniority and matured in their
scholarship. The Programme for the Alumni of CODESRIA
Institutes is designed primarily to serve as a forum for continued
interaction among all those who have participated
in any of the institutes hosted by the Council. In so doing, it
will enable the laureates to re-visit some of the old intellectual
concerns that attracted them in the first place to the
Institute in which they participated, pose new questions that
arise as a result of the passage of time and the generation
of new insights, and develop a new, collective intellectual
agenda that might be pursued further through other
CODESRIA research vehicles. In order to realise the objectives
of the programme, CODESRIA will offer a page on its
website for interaction among the former laureates; the
page will also carry news about laureates and post publications
which they may want to share with one another.
Furthermore, the Council will convene an annual conference
of the alumni of CODESRIA Institutes around a defined
theme to which former laureates will be invited to respond
through abstracts and papers. The revised versions of the
papers presented at the conference will be published by
the Council in its Book Series.

During 2007, CODESRIA will be conducting a tracer study
on the laureates of its institutes with a view to building a
database on their intellectual trajectory over the period
since their participation in the session for which they attended.
Effective from 2007 too, the Council will be hosting
an annual conference for the alumni of its institutes. For
the purpose of the tracer study, a short questionnaire is
being circulated (by e-mail and on the CODESRIA website)
which all alumni are invited to complete. With regard to
the conference, it will be held from 19 to 21 September,
2007 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the umbrella theme of :
Re-thinking the State and Democracy in Africa. The conference
languages will be English, French and Portuguese.
The theme of state and democracy is one which has preoccupied
the African social research community for a long
time even if different generations of scholars have grappled
with different dimensions of the question as they
sought to relate with the contemporary socio-economic,
political and cultural challenges to which they were called
to respond. Not surprisingly, it is a theme which has also
recurred directly or indirectly in all of the sessions of the
different institutes which the Council hosted during the
1990s into the new millennium, that period when renewed
struggles for the soul of the state and its institutions unfolded
and ushered in a new phase of institutional and
procedural reforms. Within the ambit of the specific themes
of the institutes in which they participated, many laureates
produced essays during the 1990s and at the beginning of
the new millennium summarising their thoughts on the problems
and prospects of democratic development in Africa
and the role of the state in the project. They did so by examining
the question through class, gender and generational
lenses with a view to formulating interpretative perspectives
on what the state and the democratic project
mean to the working poor, women, and young people.
They critiqued the old and emerging institutional foundations
of governance and development in Africa and invested
themselves in the difference between form and content
in the African democratic and state-building project.
They spoke to questions of access to participate in the policy
processes of the state and equitable representation in
the democratic processes. They also examined the feasibility
of an Africa that is anchored on a democratic developmental
state foundation. Many years after their initial contributions
to the debates that raged in the 1990s on the
state and democracy, and with the benefit of the experience
accumulated in different countries since then, former
laureates are invited to revisit the question taking advantage
of the new contexts and knowledges that have developed.
Contributions could come in the form of a theorisation
of the state and democracy in ways which offer new
insights or an analytic review of experience with an accent
on trends that are discernable.

Former laureates wishing to participate in the conference
are invited to send in paper abstracts anchored on a rethinking
of the state and democracy in Africa, doing so
from the multiple perspectives arising from the diversity of
institutes hosted by the Council, and the diverse perspectives
that underpinned them. Abstracts should be concise
with a clear problematic linked to the conference theme.

December 30 2009