Distributive politics for an urbanizing continent: A view from Ghana

Colloquium | February 20 | 12:30-2 p.m. | 223 Moses Hall

 Jeffrey Paller, Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco Department of Politics

 Center for African Studies

Dominant social science approaches to distributive politics focus on elections and social characteristics. Yet these approaches often overlook the historical evolution of local contexts, as well as how certain residents and groups make meaning of specific goods and resources. This is particularly important in cities where land is scarce while property values rise, enabling politicians and leaders to politicize the commons in specific ways. This research project provides an alternative to conventional accounts of distributive politics by considering how informal norms of settlement and belonging shape the type of distributive politics across urban African neighborhoods. The research combines ethnography and survey methods to provide a glimpse into the everyday politics of urban Ghana.

Jeffrey Paller is an Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco. He specializes in African politics and sustainable urban development. His research examines the practice of democracy and accountability in urban Africa. He is currently completing a book manuscript called “Democracy in Ghana: Everyday Politics in Urban Africa.”