This panel seeks to explore the notion of the 'good citizen'. In particular, we are interested in the negotiation of norms, duties and expectations of actual, existing citizens and how these have been developed from above and below in late colonial, post-colonial and contemporary Africa.
In recent years, the question of who is or is not a citizen has become a matter of pressing concern in many African states. Yet a focus on binaries of inclusion and exclusion has led to the neglect of larger questions of the political theory and practice of citizenship in Africa as well as a tendency to homogenise experience across the continent. At the same time, a growing body of historical research suggests that conceptions of citizenship have been formed from below as well as from above within specific political cultures, shaped over time by colonial and post-colonial states' expectations of what constitutes a 'good citizen'. Through empirical studies stretching from the late colonial period through to the present, the panel seeks to explore how state elites, intellectuals and subaltern groups have debated and sustained norms of citizenship, and how these often unrecognized subjectivities shaped political opportunities and trajectories. We seek to explore specificities in citizenship entitlement, such as privileged belonging for those who contributed to liberation wars, the favouring of rural producers over urban residents, the expansion of citizenship to diasporic communities and the duties of 'good' citizens as elaborated in countries like Rwanda and Eritrea, versus the 'insurgent citizens' of South Africa. In this way, the panel offers a timely opportunity to critically compare case studies from across the continent and from the present as well as the past.