Short Course: Africa RDG

Africa RDG

Andrew Stinson
Full Day, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Westin, Ramezay

The Africa RDG on “Political Trust in Africa’s Age of Coronavirus and Coups” will be held in-person, and is organized by the African Politics Conference Group. APSA will cover most costs of participation for invited scholars, including roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodation, and conference registration fees.

Theme Statement

Vertical trust connects citizens and officials empowered to act in the public interest. It also links patrons to clients, whose relationships entail reciprocal expectations or obligations. The pandemic and ecosystems of fake news have also highlighted the fragility of popular trust in expertise, including scientists and public health officials. The 2022 Research Development Group seek papers exploring the changing nature of vertical trust in Africa and the implications for democratic governance. Our expansive understanding of trust includes confidence in electoral commissions, the miliary, legislatures, police, or generalized trust in government. It also encompasses trust in medical professionals, church leaders, the media, or traditional rulers.

This year’s convenors are Professors Carl LeVan from American University in Washington, D.C., Yahaya Baba from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto-Nigeria, and Abdu Mukhtar Musa of Islamic University Omdurman in Sudan. The RDG seeks to explore the interlocking effects of recent transformations in state-society relations unfolding manifest in phenomena such as secondary effects of the Coronavirus, popular demands for good governance manifesting in protest, and the return of military regimes as democratic backsliding has given way to outright coups. Has the pandemic American Political Science Association International Programs – Africa 1527 New Hampshire Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036 strengthened or undermined confidence in public officials? Does trust in government rise and decline alongside other types of vertical trust? Have fiscal strains disrupted clientelist networks, weakening reciprocal bonds between patrons and clients in ways that have been unexpectedly conducive to democracy? And what are the consequences for modern African ideals of governance, given that democracy itself implies a measure of mistrust in order to motivate accountability and participation?

As part of its examination of vertical trust, we are seeking papers that explore regime transitions and pandemic politics in Africa. Such papers could, for example, consider:

    • whether some health regulations have weakened political rights, undermining civil society as a counterforce against anti-democratic or populist elements;
    • vertical trust as a feature of scientific communication and public health messaging around the pandemic;
    • the changing dynamics of trust across different types institutions, for example comparing trust in the military, the police and the parliament to trust in doctors, public health officials and the media;
    • how evaluations of the domestic policy response to the pandemic factored into overall assessments of trust in government. Papers making conceptual contributions, for example identifying distinctions between generalized confidence and particularized trust, or considering the broad theorized relationships between trust and misinformation, are also welcome.