(Adapted from a post on the Edinburgh Politics & IR Blog, by Kathy Dodworth)
We have set up an excellent panel of speakers for our New Political Topographies conference, to be held 28-29 May.
The conference’s two keynotes will speak directly to the theme of the shifting political landscape. Rita Abrahamsen’s extensive work on conflict and security actors in Africa demonstrates not how ‘public’ governance has been rendered irrelevant, but rather reconstituted with new players. Andrew Barry, a political geographer with a background in natural sciences, has ‘interrogated’ at length where the social, material and political meet and what repercussions this has for scientific enquiry more broadly. His most recent book explores the shifting constellation of political actors around the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Such research sets the scene for the conference, welcoming contributions that interrogate new and contested forms of ‘public’ authority, as well as how state and non-state actors legitimate such authority in the changing global landscape.
Speakers from a range of disciplinary backgrounds will develop these themes further in presenting recent empirical research from Africa and beyond. Finn Stepputat will present new research on transboundary Somali trade networks, in line with his ‘Global Political Ethnography’ on how new actors and technologies are changing policy regimes. Jana Hönke with Iván Cuesta Fernandez will present some early findings from their new project on emerging political geographies around large-scale economic infrastructures, particularly mines and ports. On a slightly different theme, looking at the conditions of non-state political authority, Kathy Dodworh will present on the material, discursive and political components of the legitimacy of NGOs in the increasingly crowded marketplace in Tanzania. Other eminent scholars from Edinburgh’s Centre for African Studies and Politics and IR will confirm their contribution on related themes in due course.
P.S. We are happy to confirm that Brenda Chalfin will also present in the conference. Dr. Chalfin is well known for her ethnographical work on the neoliberal frontier in Ghana, that looks at changes in state sovereignty from the vantage point of borders, checkpoints and custom offices.