Voting materiality and citizenship in East Africa. Call for papers
IFRA is delighted to invite you to submit a paper proposal for its conference on “Voting Materiality and Citizenship in East Africa“, wich will take place in Nairobi on October 14-15, 2015.
Please find the call for papers here : IFRA conference Voting materiality
Paper proposal should be sent before June 30 at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Voting materiality: Technologies and imaginations of citizenship in East Africa
Conference and exhibition, Nairobi, 14-15 October 2015, IFRA
with BIEA, Joint Programme of African Studies (Paris 1 – Sciences Po – Columbia University), Institut français.
Organizers: Sandrine Perrot (CERI), Marie-Emmanuelle Pommerolle (IFRA), Justin Willis (Durham University)
This conference, and an associated exhibition, will bring academics from multiple disciplines together with ‘electoral professionals’ (political parties; NGOs civics – religious or not; and donors). It will provide a unique opportunity for electoral professionals and researchers to meet, share and discuss traditions of electoral studies which have been divided by disciplinary approach and between Francophone and Anglophone countries.
Confirmed speakers include: Richard Banégas (CERI), Christine Deslaurier (IRD), Sara Dorman (Edinburgh University), Marie-Aude Fouéré (EHESS), Peter Pels (Leiden University)
For twenty-five years and with the return of multiparty politics, elections have been at the heart of technological and institutional innovations in Eastern Africa. Political and popular civic education programs have mushroomed, with the stated goal of holding “free and fair” elections. A heterogeneous set of objects have been designed and produced in order to build institutions and citizens complying with « modern » political representations constantly being redefined.
Using this materiality of voting as a starting point, the conference will inquire into the objects and technologies which frame the act of voting, and the ways they are used, diverted and challenged. Its main objective will be to study how these technologies and institutions which embrace the material objects but also a complex of practises, language and assumptions, transform and reveal about voting imaginations and electoral citizenship. Indeed, the materiality of elections refers here to the material culture of elections (posters, boxes, t-shirts and their lives during and after the vote), but also leads to a reflection on the entanglement of objects, institutions, performances and embodiment of citizenship during elections.
Through the event, participants in the conference will reflect on a series of key questions organized under three broad topics:
Popular uses and imaginations of electoral items : elections are highly productive moments, which have constantly generated novel material items as well as new practices: transparent ballot boxes, biometric technologies, parallel counting, civic education curricula but also leaflets, banners, t-shirts, wax print cloths, caps, drinks, are everywhere. Often externally derived, but always subject to very local appropriations shaped through multiple intermediaries (women associations, religious leaders, civic education NGOs, etc.), these have been involved in a constant process of “political modernization”.What experiences, what memories, what exchanges do these objects produce? What do they reveal and what impact have they had on the local imaginaries of the act of voting?
Electoral technologies and political games : while transparency and the fight against fraud is usually seen as the ultimate goal of institutional and technological structures, how do the candidates and their supporters circumvent these new constraints? And what arguments, if any, do the technologies provide to “moral entrepreneurs” denouncing the practices of their opponents or of regimes?
Electoral technology and external intervention : in order to avoid direct political intervention, donors focus on technical and material support. The internationalization and standardization of voting materials and procedures – avowedly technical and therefore apparently apolitical – transforms voting practices and impacts the renegotiation of power relationships and representation. How has such assistance become involved in the (de) legitimation of power? How has it contributed to the production of a powerful expert knowledge deployed by “engineers of democracy”?
How this quest for expertise has produced a transnational market of elections? The conference will be accompanied by an exhibition of historical and contemporary imported and local electoral objects (electoral paraphernalia, photographs of electoral mobilizations) which have become part of the electoral performance. Some are fetishized as having the power to bring democracy, some are denounced as part of a commercialization of politics: all of these objects reveal much about civic imaginaries and how they are made and remade through elections.