Event Date: March 20, 2023 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm EST
Location: FSS 4006
Presented by CIPS
Recent years have confirmed the strength of authoritarianism in Africa. To shine light on this phenomenon, Rebecca Tapscott discusses the conceptual relationship between arbitrary power—the unrestrained and unaccountable power of the executive—and its institutional and legal restraints. In particular, she sets out how understanding this relationship as fluid and changing can reveal how some authoritarians project executive power even while democratic institutions and practices remain formally in place. These findings are situated in other contemporary research on authoritarianism in Africa to show how they contribute and nuance existing explanations. Empirically, the intervention focuses local violent actors in Uganda as an example of how the state both mobilizes and uses local authorities in its everyday governance, while denying those authorities the ability to meaningfully consolidate authority independently from the state. This view illustrates how these regimes outsource responsibility for key services associated with state sovereignty (justice and security), without relinquishing authority. This speaks to the question at hand by illuminating how spaces for claim-making and political activity can both exist and be unable to meaningfully contend with authoritarian power.
This event will take place in English.
Dr. Rebecca Tapscott is an Ambizione Fellow at the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Geneva Graduate Institute and a visiting fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Department of Politics and International Relations and the LSE’s Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa. Tapscott’s work has studied authoritarianism and political violence, gender, and research ethics. She is the author the book Arbitrary States: Social control and modern authoritarianism in Museveni’s Uganda, which was a finalist for the Bethwell A. Ogot Prize. The book is open access (available for free download) on the publisher’s website, here: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/arbitrary-states-9780198856474?cc=gb&lang=en&
Dr. Rita Abrahamsen, Director of CIPS and Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa. Her research interests are in African politics and security, Africa and International Relations, postcolonial theory, as well as the Global Right.