This book traces the implementation of the good governance agenda in Malawi from World Bank policy documents to the individual experiences of civil servants who responded in unforeseen ways to the reform. It presents a fine-grained ethnographic account of what African civil servants actually do, both at home and the office.
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Gerhard Anders (Ph.D. 2005) is a senior lecturer at the Institute of Social & Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich. His research focuses on the anthropology of emergent regimes of global order in the fields of criminal justice and development. He has published on legal anthropology, international criminal justice, good governance and corruption including the co-edited volume (with M. Nuijten) Corruption and the Secret of Law (Ashgate, 2009).
Contents Acknowledgements vii Glossary and abbreviations ix Map of Malawi x 1 INTRODUCTION: UNPACKING GOOD GOVERNANCE 1 Civil servants as implementers and "target population" 1 The "dysfunctional" African state 3 Good governance as technology 5 Field sites 8 Studying up, follow the policy 9 Basic information about the civil service 11 Outline 14 2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 15 Banda's rule and the "New Malawi" 16 The results of two decades of structural adjustment 19 The civil service - from localisation to good governance 24 3 CONSTRUCTING COUNTRY OWNERSHIP 28 Introduction 28 The emergence of a concept 30 Conditionality and country ownership 34 The normativity of numbers 40 The discovery of the "C word" 42 Conclusions 47 4 THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS 49 Deconstructing policy implementation 49 Retrenchment of employees made redundant 51 The introduction of new housing allowances 55 Increasing fragmentation of the civil service 60 Conclusions 68 5 ERODING SALARIES AND DOING BUSINESS 70 The African entrepreneurial spirit 70 The meaning of having a job in the civil service 73 "How to make ends meet" 83 Winners and losers of economic liberalisation 89 Conclusions 97 vi 6 "DISTANCE SAVES ME" 99 Introduction 99 Kubwerera kumudzi 101 Education and social stratification 110 The importance of associations 111 The nature of kinship duties 115 Conclusions 120 7 THE DEMOCRATISATION OF APPROPRIATION 122 Introduction 122 "Bad politics" 124 The office mores - a parallel social and moral order 130 A "primoridial public sphere"or a patchwork of moralities? 135 Conclusions 139 8 CONCLUSIONS: THE STATE IN SOCIETY 141 The paradoxical policies of the World Bank and the IMF 142 A note on theorising the postcolonial state 148 References 151 Index 163
The anthropology of the postcolonial state takes a major step forward with Gerhard Anders' outstanding study. His ethnographic insights into the planning, implementation and manipulation of the civil service reform in Malawi give food for thought well beyond the specific case he writes about. No other study of the 1990s good governance agenda in Africa has accomplished Anders' nuanced account of the lived experience among civil servants caught up in the throes of change. This is a landmark study that challenges facile generalizations about corruption and the dysfunctional state in Africa.
Harri Englund, University of Cambridge
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