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Politics as Culture in Eastern Africa Nation-Building, Neo-Liberalism and Moral Rhetoric

June 7, 2012

This workshop brings together recent studies of the cultural and rhetorical dimensions of contemporary political change in Eastern Africa. The constitution of national identity has long been studied as an inherently cultural exercise. National affiliation is sustained by a range of cultural practices in which citizens actively participate.

While critical studies have concentrated on the developmental state of the post-independence period, less attention has been directed to more recent neo-liberal state formations which have emerged in Africa under pressure from donors and the international financial institutions.

The workshop seeks to explore the dimensions of this new moral culture in the politics of East Africa. It will consider in particular the potential for contest and subversion of the dominant neo-liberal common sense, as well as earlier cultural forms and moral exemplars which are still influential in East African politics.


Writing ‘Project Kenya’: Public Memory and Popular Histories in Parselelo Kantai’s Writing
Grace Musila (University of Stellenbosch)

Satire and the Politics of Corruption in Kenya
John Harrington and Ambreena Manji (BIEA)

Remoralizing Politics in Tanzania: Julius Nyerere as a National Icon
Marie-Aude Fouéré (IFRA)

The seminar is free. To RSVP please email –