Happy Independence Day

Material Culture of Politics in Africa

Image

This picture comes from my first visit to Zimbabwe in 1991. I was fascinated by the omnipresent President.  A friend ‘rescued’ this picture from an office where it had been abandoned, folded up and in tatters, replaced by a newer, shinier, framed portrait.  Even though it had not been respected we still felt as though we were taking liberties, and wondered if someone would object.  We were there 11 years after independence, as structural adjustment was coming in, and in the middle of the one-party state debate. Today, Zimbabwe has been independent for 34 years.  The way in which iconography and national emblems have changed – and the ways in which they have stayed the same – are fascinating. I’ve got a couple of blogs scheduled for the next week looking at this, and how groups have tried to reclaim those images.

But ‘official portraits’ are found in most African countries…

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Targets in Public Policy: Disciplining or Signaling?

Politics, Knowledge & Migration

A new paper I prepared for the PSA conference in Manchester next week explores the functions of targets in UK immigration and asylum policy. It’s part of our ongoing project on the Politics of Monitoring. The paper examines the tensions between two rather different uses of targets: targets as a political device for signaling commitment to certain goals, and as a managerial tool for improving organizational performance. It focuses on the case of targets on immigration and asylum adopted between 2000-2010 as part of the government’s Public Service Agreements (PSA). The paper argues that:

1. The initial process-based PSA targets on asylum largely failed to function as effective political signals – with the result that senior political figures instead created new, more publicly digestible, targets outside of the PSA system.  This seems to reflect a wider problem with attempts to signal performance through technocratic tools of measurement. Especially in…

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