Starting in March 2018 and running for 3.5 years, Catherine Boone will lead the ESRC-funded project on Spatial Inequalities in the Political Economy of Africa. This project is a collaborative effort between scholars in the UK, US, and Kenya: co-PI's are Leigh Gardner in Economic History at the LSE, Michael Wahman in Political Science at Michigan State University, Andrew Linke in Geography at University of Utah, Fibian Lukalo at the National Land Commission of Kenya, and research assistants in Government and Economic History at the LSE and University of Nairobi in Kenya. Each party brings different disciplinary, methodological, and substantive expertise to questions of African political economy.
Aims and Research Questions
The project asks: How do inequalities across subnational regions within African countries shape patterns of conflict, competition, and political mobilization? The objective is to develop theory and data that will show that there are economic, socio-economic and institutional drivers of regionalized competition that have been systematically overlooked in policy and social-scientific understandings of political competition and conflict in Africa. Researchers will develop new theory, data, and innovative empirical strategies at the subnational, regional level for 10 African countries, which the goal of developing hypotheses and protocol for extending our analyses to a wider sample of countries over time.
The project team aims produce a regional analysis of national electoral coalitions; an analysis of the local-level administrative and political units that shape political competition within countries; analysis of how and why regional inequality can drive differing preferences on distributive policy issues; and an examination of how national rulers can use land allocation and population movement to shape regional coalitions for partisan advantage.
Two exciting aspects of the project have to do with territorial politics and land politics. One is the first-ever geocoding of all Kenyan settlement scheme boundaries since 1960, generating a complete inventory of scheme perimeters that will allow us to track changes in the size, location, location attributes, numbers of settlers and parcels, and other aspects of the nearly 400 official settlement schemes that the Kenya government has created over time. The second is the collection and geocoding of internal administrative and political boundaries in our sample of countries from the mid-1950s onwards. This will make it possible to track constancy and change in "internal borders" in African countries since the creation of colonial native authorities in the colonies, and to ask how these institutions have shaped patterns of resource allocation, internal migration, the shape of electoral constituencies, and land access over time.
Project streams incorporate African researchers and students, and we have built-in scholarly and user knowledge exchange which will draw upon the MoU between the LSE and the Research Land Commission in Kenya that was established in 2017. The project will culminate in a series of co-authored scholarly publications and research workshops at the British Institute in Eastern Africa in Nairobi and at the LSE in Spring 2019, 2020, and 2021.
This project is a collaborative effort between scholars in the UK, US, and Kenya:
Professor Catherine Boone (PI) - Department of International Development
Dr Leigh Gardner (Co-PI) - Economic History
Dr Michael Wahman - Political Science at Michigan State University
Dr Andrew Linke - Geography at University of Utah
Dr Fibian Lukalo - The National Land Commission of Kenya, and research assistants in Government and Economic History at the LSE and University of Nairobi in Kenya
Economic and Social Research Council