Category Archives: VIEWS

Annual Peace Studies & International Development Conference: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa

The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 11th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.

The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.

Conference cluster themes include:

1) Natural Resources and Conflict

2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding

3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development

4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus

5) Regional Integration, Security and Development

6) Africa and the Rest of the World

To attend please register at :

JEFCAS Seminar Series: “Eritrea- Repression and Resistance”

Venue: Pemberton Room 2.11

Date:  Wed 22nd March 2017

Time: 16:00 – 18:00

Speaker: Martin Plaut (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)

Martin Plaut

About Martin Plaut:

Martin Plaut is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of   Commonwealth Studies and author of “Understanding Eritrea” published by Hurst October 2016. The book explains how the country operates and why President Isaias Afwerki has retained in power. His main research interests and publication include Civil Rights, Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, International Relations, Modern History, Political Institutions, Socialism, Communism, and Anarchism. Mr. Plaut research focus is Africa in general, South Africa and Horn of Africa in Particular.

Yorkshire African Studies Network (YASN) tion and Transition – Roots and Routes

Yorkshire African Studies Network conference

Migration and Transition – Roots and Routes

University of Hull, 18th and 19th May 2017

The main theme of the conference is Migration and Transition – Roots and Routes

This 2 day interdisciplinary conference aims to create an inclusive and supportive space for post-graduate scholars, academics and community members to come together in a supportive environment, to provide a platform of critical thinking, exchange of ideas and to promote inter-relationships between academics, researchers, the community and non-academics. .

The conference provides an opportunity for academics and professionals from various fields to share their theoretical knowledge, research findings and practices with colleagues, participants and community members in a relaxed and stimulating atmosphere. Participants’ input will be encouraged in order to add value and interaction, promote networking and foster partnerships throughout the duration of the conference. The conference will be interactive, providing an excellent opportunity for networking.

The main theme of the conference is Migration and Transition – Roots and Routes

There are four strands and poster presentations

Four strands:

  1. The socio-economic and demographic determinants of migration.
  2. Cultural practices, health and life transitions in refugee camps
  3. Sex slave trafficking/ sex workers
  4. Social media, political activism and restorative justice

The socio-economic and demographic determinants of migration: Socio-political, economic, ecological and violence are factors driving migration. Rising violence as a result of ethnic or religious intolerance has led to increased levels of migration. Migration can be humanitarian and/or economic.

Health and life transitions in refugee camps: Forced immigration is a challenge and the traumatic events may have an impact on the individual’s sense of self, identity, health and well-being.

Sex slave trafficking/ sex workers: The sex trade exploitation affects people from all walks of life; asylum seekers, migrant workers and sex workers.

Social media and political, cultural and religious activism: Media activism utilises social media and communication technologies for social, political, cultural and religious movements and activism. Users are able to create and share content for political, cultural and religious change.

Poster presentations: Poster presentations may be on any research topic related to Africa. All ideas will be considered.

Paper presentations will be 15 minutes. Poster presentations will be 15 minutes.

Abstracts of 250 words and poster presentations to be sent to:  by the 30th March 2017

Foe more Information see:

JEFCAS Seminar Series: Beyond Radicalisation

Venue: Pemberton Room 2.11

Date: Wed 25 January 2017

Time: 16:00 – 18:00

Speaker: Dr Paul Higate,

University of Bristol: Beyond Radicalisation: Gendered Assemblages and Migrations of Violence.


About Dr Paul Higate: Dr Higate is a reader in Gender and Security School for Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol. His research focuses on the gendered culture of the military and militarised masculinities in the substantive contexts of: the transition of military personnel to civilian life, United Nations peacekeeping and most recently private security contractors. Dr Higate has an interest in developing innovative and inter-disciplinary informed ways in which to theorise security, drawing on human geography, critical geopolitics, sociology and cultural studies.

JEFCAS Seminar Series: Liberals against human rights

Venue: Pemberton Room 2.11

Date: Wed 7 December 2016

Time: 16:00 – 18:00

Speaker: Dr Peter Brett

Peter Brett, Queen Mary University of London: Liberals against human rights: how transnational rights regimes have undermined the re-building of political order in Zimbabwe.


About Dr Peter Brett: Dr Peter is a lecturer in African politics, Queen Mary University of London. Previously he was a Teaching Fellow in Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), where he did his graduate studies. He has also worked as an Adjunct Professor at Richmond – the American International University in London, and has taught at the University of Paris (Panthéon-Sorbonne). He has a broad range of interests, including the politics of Sub-Saharan Africa, international law, legal sociology, the politics of rights, and the history of international relations.

Annual Peace Studies & International Development Conference: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa

The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 11th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.

The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.

Conference cluster themes include:

1) Natural Resources and Conflict

2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding

3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development

4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus

5) Regional Integration, Security and Development

6) Africa and the Rest of the World
The conference is open to doctoral students and early career scholars, researchers and practitioners. Potential participants and paper presenters are required to submit an Abstract of 200 – 300 words on or before 15th November 2016 to:    
All shortlisted participants will be required to submit the first draft of their papers at least two months before the conference. The conference is expected to result in a co-edited book (Lead Editor: Professor Kenneth Omeje, Senior Research Fellow, John & Elnora Ferguson Centre of African Studies, University of Bradford). Kindly note that all short-listed participants will be responsible for the full-cost of their participation, including visa, travels, accommodation and subsistence.

For full details on the conference: conference-call-oct-2016-revised-version-1

JEFCAS Seminar Series: Birthplace, bloodline and beyond

Venue: Pemberton Room 2.11

Date: Wed 12 October 2016

Time: 16:00 – 18:00

Speaker: Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey, University of Oxford

 Birthplace, bloodline and beyond: how ‘Liberian citizenship’ is currently constructed in Liberia and abroad.

Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey

As a twenty-first century post-war, emigrant-sending country, Liberia reflects global citizenship norms while simultaneously departing from them, and this unique positioning offers new opportunity to theorise citizenship across spatial and temporal landscapes. I examine ‘Liberian citizenship’ construction through a historical prism, arguing that as Liberia transformed from a country of immigration to one of emigration, so too did conceptualisations of citizenship – moving from passive, identity-based citizenship emphasising rights and entitlements to more active, practice-based citizenship privileging duties and responsibilities.

About Dr Robtel Pailey: Robtel is a Liberian academic, activist and author with over a decade of combined professional experiences in Africa, Europe and North America. Her areas of research expertise include migration, citizenship, Diasporas, development, transnationalism, conflict, post-war recovery, governance, and the political economy of aid, trade and remittances.

Robtel’s research and writing have appeared in the 2016 book The New Humanitarians in International Practice: Emerging Actors and Contested Principles; the 2014 book Leadership in Post-Colonial Africa: Trends Transformed by Independence; the 2010 African literature reader Tales, Tellers and Talemaking: Critical Studies on Literary Stylistics and Narrative Styles in Contemporary African Literature; the 2007 book From the Slave Trade to ‘Free’ Trade: How Trade Undermines Democracy and Justice in Africa; as well as scholarly journals including Citizenship Studies, the Liberian Studies Journal (LSJ) and Humanitas.

Dr Pailey currently serves as a senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s International Migration Institute (IMI).

Academics and NGO Practitioners in Collaborative Research: How Can We Co-Produce?

Academic-NGO practitioner research collaboration can drive us into different paths. Emerging from our recently held workshop organised by INTRAC , World Vision  and JEFCAS  is the need for academic and NGO collaboration in research as co-producers from formative stage to dissemination stage.  Such approach should represent learning and sharing of theoretical and practical experiences.

However, it is important to look at which collaboration approach offers a better explanation to academic-NGO collaborative research.  Sullivan and Skelcher (2002), highlighted three theories on collaboration: the optimists, pessimists and realists.  Optimists thinking on collaborative takes an altruistic view and argued that collaboration emerge from shared vision and the desire to solve problems and ensure sustainable service to the society. Power and resources are effectively shared for the good of the society. This differs from the pessimists thinking that attacks collaboration from resource and power angle. According to this view, collaboration serves the interest of organisations exploring opportunities to increase their power and resources without any interest on future outcomes.  A different and third perspective is the realists thinking, which sees change as the overriding factor in collaboration. This view argues that collaboration is evolutionary in nature and responds to changing trends and emergences of new ideas and technologies.  Realists are very pragmatic and accept that change is the only permanent feature in the world.

It appears that academic-NGO research collaboration can be located in more than one theory.  Firstly, in order to work together, academics and NGOs need the optimists’ idea of common vision, common goal and sustainable plan and also the realists’ adaptation to changing trends and pragmatism.   In academic-NGO collaborative research co-production, it is important that the origin and shaping of idea come from both worlds. The cultural, philosophical and intellectual divide between the academic and NGO have to be merged into a unitary research identity.  Practitioners can share their practical experiences that will then shape the academics research thinking. Merging of the practitioner field experience and academic research skill and knowledge can then culminate in a research question.

Academics are known to be better equipped with critical enquiry while NGOs are more practically focused on results.  NGOs still carry out researches for advocacy, campaign and projects implementation.   They are constantly involved in field projects and interact with communities and beneficiaries of research output.  Invariably, they can complement the academic research skills and co-produce research by supporting the academics in arriving at research that is relevant to the need of the society and assessing the relevance of certain research to target audience.  The academic can also support the NGO in training and sharing of research tips. Additionally, most NGOs reports might already have answers to academic research questions. Such existing data bank could serve in the co-production of research.

In terms of sharing research, academics and NGOs can work together by using research output for advocacy, search for further research funds, production of peer reviewed papers and articles. Collaborating with academics will help the practitioners to get strong grip on different uses of research output, while at the same time encourage them to think creatively on how they can continually use their network to disseminate results. Much of this is covered in our forth coming think piece on Cracking Collaboration.

SULLIVAN, H. & SKELCHER, C. (2002) Working Across Boundaries: Collaboration in Public Services. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Tanzania- Addicted to Aid and seeking a new vision?

2011 marked the 50th year of Tanganyikan independence (becoming Tanzania in 1964). The  African Economic Outlook (AEO) for 2011 notes that Tanzania is the recipient of the highest levels development assistance in Africa.  At the same time, donors also hail Tanzania as a development success- it has had a number of years of  strong economic growth.  It has attracted foreign investment and opportunities for private enterprise are expanding.  The AEO report does note that some of the economic growth is also due to large inflows of aid and suggest that a budget deficit is also growing.

Aid has always played a significant role in Tanzania and Tanzania has danced successfully to the donors tune- during the Nyerere era, then market liberalisation, through to the preparation of Poverty Reduction Strategies (MKUKUTA) in the new millennium.

Mwalimu Nyrerere stated in the 1967 Arusha Declaration that:

It is stupid to rely on money as the major instrument of development when we know only too well that our country is poor. It is equally stupid, indeed it is even more stupid, for us to imagine that we shall rid ourselves of our poverty through foreign financial assistance rather than our own financial resources.

World Bank figures suggest that Tanzania received 46$ per person in ODA in 1990, falling to 31$ in 2000 and rising again to 55$ per person in 2009.  Dependence on aid to fund social programmes is growing not falling.

Where aid has changed social indicators:

Tanzania is highly likely to meet the MDG on Primary School Enrollment- debt cancellation and direct budget support led to a rapid expansion in primary school enrollment through abolition of fees and a programme of classroom building.  Yet education quality has been eroded and classrooms offer few useful skills.  A two tier system is increasing inequality with those who can pay putting their children into English language private schools and the rest left behind in classes of 100……..

The MDG on Infant mortality (but not maternal mortality) may also be achieved. Hans Rosling on the wonderful gap minder website hails Tanzania as reducing infant mortality faster than Sweden ever did but he does acknowledge that this is largely due to aid spending.

However income poverty has remained persistent- reducing in the urban areas but falling only marginally in the rural area (37.6% in 2007 from 38.7% in 2001) but due to population growth it is estimated that there are 1.3 million more individuals living in poverty in Tanzania than a decade ago.  The World Bank figures also suggest that 34% of the population is undernourished as compared to 28% in 1990.  Inflation in the consumer prices index stands at 19.8% and puts pressure on family spending.

So what is going wrong?  Why is poverty still so persistent?  I remember buying a book at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in 2004 (with contributions by a range of eminent Tanzanian intellectuals) which was titled: “Why is Tanzania still poor after 40 years of independence?”  In 2012 – this title still rings true only another decade has passed.  Aid is clearly not the answer and in fact is part of the problem but I will return to this another time.

Using the power of social media I asked students studying Masters Degrees as part of the Bradford-Mzumbe collaboration for their assessment of Tanzania@50 and received many interesting answers which I have tried to summarise:

Tanzania can be proud of being a peaceful country for the last 50 years but now there is a lack of leadership and vision.  Direct criticism of Kikwete see him as continuously engaged in foreign trips for the purposes of begging for more aid- this set of comments on his recent trip to Davos have been circulated far and wide on the internet. External aid and loans fund the lifestyles of the political and aid class- fueling spending on sitting allowances and luxurious cars.  Leaders, Civil Society Activists and Intellectuals have a duty to challenge this.

Inequality is growing- the rich can pay for services but the poor must make do with what is left behind.  Power shortages, unemployment and poor infrastructure are holding the country back.

Tanzania is rich in resources (land and minerals) yet the government has allowed foreign companies to rush in and take what they want and to enjoy long tax holidays and bribes.  Economic growth has been in aid, mining and tourism not in the sectors that would reduce poverty such as agriculture.

So what will we be saying in another 10 years?  Will a new vision for the future emerge?  A swell of criticism of the government in both the traditional and social media suggests a new generation gaining in voice and in a collective momentum to challenge the status quo…. will this be enough?