This panel is interested in ethnographic, sociological and critical perspectives on taxation in urban Africa. It goes beyond policy analyses on the issue, and instead aims to understand taxation within debates on state-society relations, and its temporal, spatial and scalar dynamics.
How are public revenues made in contemporary urban Africa? This panel invites empirically and theoretically informed papers that shed light on everyday taxation in African towns and cities. We are interested in ethnographic and critical studies that shed light on fiscal practices and experiences both from the viewpoint of those levying and those paying taxes. Cases of taxation we are interested in can target individuals, firms or non-profit organizations, be place based or more value based, involve compliance or coercion and various degrees of fiscal (dis-)obedience (Roitman, 2005). The growing literature on taxation in Africa has privileged policy and institutional analysis. This panel proposes a more sociological approach to this issue. We intend to further the debate on what constitutes urban taxation, both engaging with and going beyond debates on the blurred public/private and formal/informal nature of fiscal practices. The creation of revenue asks the question how private wealth is transformed - both discursively and materially - into a 'public' good, and what the 'public' nature of this good constitutes. We are particularly interested in the making of fiscal revenues in light of state-society relations and unfolding power dynamics. These involve the making of subjects, the inclusion and exclusion of citizens from tax registers, and particular spatial and scalar dynamics of expanding African cities. The making of fiscal revenues also has a particular temporal dimension, which deserves our attention.