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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa



The AUC International Conference on African Challenges (4-5 December, 2019)

AUC International Conference on Research in African Challenges (ICRAC)
Track H1: Economies of Poverty
4-5 of December 2019


Sub-track H1: The New Politics of redistribution in Africa

The AUC International Conference on Research in African Challenges will be held in Cairo on the 4-5 of December 2019. Conference details can be found at http://www1.aucegypt.edu/conferences/icrac/

The below is a call for papers/participants in track H1. The track is titled The New Politics of Redistribution in Africa and is organized by Dzodzi Tsikata and Hania Sholkamy. Applicants from social, economic, feminist and policy sciences are invited to apply. Bursaries and support will be offered to applicants from the continent on a competitive basis once abstracts have been accepted.

Please submit abstracts on the conference website at icrac2019@conftool.org
Deadline is on the 20th of June

Chair: Dr. Hania Sholkamy
Co-chair: Professor Dzodzi Tsikata

“Structures of distribution are determined by structures of production” (Ferguson 2015: 34). The past three decades have witnessed a shift in poverty and social policy and politics in the African content whereby production and investment in infrastructure and in productive assets, once the mainstay of development policy have been eclipsed to some extent by the new programs of distribution. These are cash transfer programs and grants of South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Morocco and Egypt. These programs have been well studied and critically evaluated. They have had an effect on poverty but have also affected the content and meaning of citizenship. Cash transfers, basic income payments and work guarantees are no longer simple technologies of poverty and misery alleviation. Indeed, in an edited collection by anthropologists on cash transfers (Olivier de Sardan & Piccoli 2018), the authors question the possibility of understanding or championing such tools of distribution in the absence of an understanding of context, history, power and the realms of possibility.

The articulation of these large programs to the wider context has similarly been problematized by Devereux et al who have noted that externally driven and/or funded social protection programs have little domestic traction. They are either perceived to be unnecessary, too generous or too miserly, too small if introduced as pilots and on the whole unsustainable or insignificant. They are yet another donor band-aid placed on a festering and deep wound (Devereux et al. 2010: 3). More broadly, African scholars have critiqued the regression of social policy represented by a shift from the universalist policies of the early post-colonial period to a targeted narrow focus on the poor, driven by a free market logic. On the basis of their critique, they have argued for the return to a transformative social policy approach in which social policy has a broad remit that combines the support for production with support for reproduction, redistribution, protection and social cohesion (Mkandawire 2004; Adesina 2011).

This track will invite researchers from the continent to reflect on the politics and implications of social protection to citizenship, identity, and national development trajectories.


Associate Professor Hania Sholkamy is an Egyptian anthropologist with a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences of the University of London. She obtained her BA and MA from The American University in Cairo (AUC). She is currently an associate research professor at the Social Research Center of the AUC. She is a proponent of feminist social protection and has lobbied for the right of women to receive welfare and pensions in their own right and not as dependents. She was regional coordinator of the Pathways to Women’s Empowerment Research Consortium in partnership with the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex, United Kingdom. Her research interests and publications mainly revolve around the fields of poverty, health, particularly reproductive health, gender, population and qualitative methods. She has co-edited two volumes, one titled Categories and Contexts: Anthropological and Historical Studies in Critical Demography (OUP) with S. Szreter and A. Dharmalingam and another titled Health and Identity in Egypt (AUC press) with F. Ghannam.

Professor Dzodzi Tsikata is Research Professor (development sociology) and the Director of the Institute of African Studies (IAS) at the University of Ghana. In a career spanning over 27 years, Tsikata’s teaching, research and advocacy have been in the areas of gender and development policies and practices; the politics and livelihood effects of land tenure reforms, large scale land acquisitions and agricultural commercialization; and informal labour relations and conditions of work, and she is widely published on these subjects. Her most recent publications include an edited book (with Ruth Hall and Ian Scoones), “Africa’s Land Rush: Implications for Rural Livelihoods and Agrarian Change”, published by Boydell and Brewer Ltd (2015). Dzodzi is a member of the editorial collective of Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy. She serves on the Boards of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE), Third World Network Africa, the Network for women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) and the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Nigeria. Dzodzi Tsikata is a fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the immediate past President of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA).

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