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ASAUK 2014 panel on 'The political economy of economic fraud in neoliberal Africa'

May 6, 2014

A number of contemporary African economies are characterised by a significant and apparently rising level of economic trickery, fraud and crime in many business sectors - and related to this we often find associated corruption, intimidation and violence. Notably as well, after two decades of light-touch regulation of the economy and the expansion of business power during the rise and height of neoliberalism, a few African states have recently started to undertake a number of explicit countermeasures (i.e. ‘crackdowns’ and regulatory initiatives) in the name of reducing fraudulent activities including ‘malpractice’ in their respective economies, i.e. officially regulating or constraining aspects of business power. Despite its empirical significance, the phenomenon of fraud and anti-fraud measures has remained largely understudied in African studies. This state of affairs is markedly different from the study of corruption on the continent. Against this background, this panel seeks to give more analytical attention to economic fraud and crime. It welcomes contributions that shed light on the political-economic drivers, characteristics and repercussions of fraud and/or anti-fraud in particular country cases. Contributors might also want to examine the sociocultural aspects of the theme. A central (but by no means the only) theme of the panel is to examine the structures and relationships of power that brought about the fraud and the anti-fraud including the ‘post-crackdown’ settlement between the state and the business sector.

With regard to for instance anti-fraud measures against both relatively wealthy/elite and poor/non-elite actors, contributors might wish to highlight issues concerning particular political-economic pressures, dilemmas, tensions, and conflicts (including intra-state organisational infighting), as well as class dynamics and power struggles related to these state measures. Or, analyse the respective episodes of violence, intimidation, corruption, injustice, impoverishment and social harm that seem to characterise some of these state measures. More generally, the panel aims to contribute to study of economic fraud and crime in the Global South.

Panel organizer:

Jörg Wiegratz, University of Leeds,