APSA’s 7th annual Africa Workshop was held from June 30th to July 11th 2014 at the Higher Institute of Public Administration (ISAP) in Maputo, Mozambique. The two-week workshop on “Distributive goods and distributive politics” was conducted in English and led by Anne Pitcher (University of Michigan, USA), Rod Alence (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa), Brian Min (University of Michigan, USA), Carlos Shenga (Higher Institute of Public Administration, Mozambique) and Sylvia Croese (Stellenbosch University, South Africa).
- Workshop Leaders
- Workshop Fellows
- Workshop Reading List
- Summary of Workshop Events
- Workshop Description (APSA)
- Workshop Description (Center for Political Studies)
The seventh annual Africa Workshop organized by the American Political Science Association (APSA) met in Maputo, Mozambique from June 30 to July 11, 2014. The event was part of a multi-year initiative to support political science research and teaching in Sub-Saharan Africa through a series of residential academic workshops at African universities and research institutions. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Africa Workshops program is a major component of APSA’s efforts to support research networks linking US scholars with their colleagues overseas and engage political science communities outside the United States.
The 2014 Africa Workshop was held in partnership with the Higher Institute of Public Administration (ISAP) in Maputo. Twenty-four scholars from ten different countries attended the workshop. In addition, the workshop had five co-leaders: Brian Min and Anne Pitcher (US-based), Rod Alence, Sylvia Croese, and Carlos Shenga (Africa-based). Together the group consisted of 15 men and 14 women, and represented twenty-four academic institutions.
Under the theme “Distributive Goods and Distributive Politics” the workshop was intended to give students a theoretical and empirical understanding of distributive politics across different regions and under different regime types. The two week program consisted of structured sessions on theory, method, and research. Theory sessions were organized on the following questions:
- What is distributive politics? What goods do governments distribute?
- Whom do governments target with distributive goods and services? Core or swing voters? The poor or the elite? Supporters or opponents?
- Where do distributive goods and services go? Urban or rural areas? Regions populated by co-ethnics of the President or of the majority party in the legislature?
- When does distribution occur? Do elections matter to the timing of goods distribution? Are there electoral cycles to distribution?
- How do politicians make credible promises? What mechanisms such as clientelistic networks, monitoring or coercion do politicians rely on to gauge whether citizens respond to their promises?
- Why do some politicians distribute and some don’t’? Are distributive politics effective, efficient, desirable? Are voters responsive?
Complementing the discussion of theoretical and methodological research on goods provision, significant time was dedicated to hands-on statistical training in the use of R, a free, open-source statistical package. The training was partly intended to improve participants’ skills as “consumers” of quantitative research on distributive politics and in political science more generally. But they were also “producers” – for example, analyzing evidence of vote-buying in pre-release Afrobarometer (Round 5) survey data, and replicating the calculations behind the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index.
Additionally, participants presented their own research manuscripts in plenary sessions, followed by small group sessions to allow for feedback and revisions to their work. The research sessions were complemented by professional development sessions on oral and written presentation skills, publication strategies, conference participation, and networking.
Site visits and presentations at the National Institute of Statistics, the National Institute of Health and the Institute for Social and Economic Studies provided insight into some of the ways that government and independent research groups collect and rely on empirical data to understand the crippling effects of HIV-AIDS, the persistence of poverty, inequality, and the distribution of goods across the country. In all cases, government officials and researchers stressed the challenges of data collection and analysis and the difficulties that presents with public goods distribution in the areas of healthcare or poverty alleviation. Particularly illuminating were the efforts by researchers at the National Institute of Health to engage in cross-national epidemiological studies of cholera and malaria in order to develop treatments that are appropriate for Mozambique.
Participants also had a chance to appreciate Mozambican arts and crafts at the National Arts Museum and the FEIMA craft market, and enjoy a relaxing day on the beach at Macaneta. Four of the co-leaders of the workshop, Carlos Shenga, Sylvia Croese, Anne Pitcher and Rod Alence also presented current research at a public symposium attended by government officials and the public. The session attracted 150 people and was covered by all the major Mozambican news organizations.
Aside from these off-site excursions and special programs, all academic sessions were convened at the Higher Institute of Public Administration (ISAP), located in the Maputo city center. This facility provided first-class education and conference facilities for the duration of the workshop. A special word of thanks is due to workshop co-leader Carlos Shenga, ISAP’s Academic Director; and Rodolfo Manhice, lecturer and head of the ISAP Resource Centre, who provided invaluable assistance in facilitating this workshop. We also greatly appreciate the support of Eduardo Chilundo, the Director General of ISAP, for agreeing to host the event.
This Workshop Proceedings report provides a full description of how the 2014 workshop deepened linkages between participating scholars and their respective institutions, highlighting the substantive, methodological, academic writing, publishing and networking activities that took place each day. Additional information can be found on the project’s permanent website.