Accepted paper:

Passive revolution or stabilising class? The evolving political economy of Joyce Banda's Malawi


Andrew Brooks (King's College London)

Paper short abstract:

Recent policy changes in Malawi implemented by Joyce Banda, are discussed to assess if the evolving political economy can be characterised as either a Gramscian moment of passive revolution or a donor sponsored stabilisation of the existing political and economic order.

Paper long abstract:

Joyce Banda's unexpected rise to the Malawian Presidency has been celebrated by the international donor community, whilst bringing about significant policy changes which have been locally contested. Southern Africa's first female leader has implemented an IMF sponsored currency devaluation which has led to a decline in incomes for the poor, whilst improving access to fuel and foreign exchange for big business. Drawing on interviews with university students and staff, who have been at the forefront of debates around the changing political economy of Malawi, this paper investigates if the unfolding situation can be characterised as either a moment of passive revolution or a stabilisation of class interests. Field research from Malawi is considered against Gramsci's work on passive revolution to illuminate if the current changes are an example of the transformation of political and institutional structures, without strong mass social process. By contrast, this paper also assess if the Banda government's new programmes merely represent actions by groups within the Malawian political elite - allied to the international donor community - which are committed to the stability and continuity of the existing economic and political order.

panel P092
Contestation and political change: exploring patterns across borders and regions