Accepted Paper:

Conceptualizing the After-Crisis through Ethnographies of Post-Crisis Situations in Africa  


Rijk van Dijk (African Studies Centre Leiden)
Astrid Bochow (Goerg-August Universität Göttingen)

Paper short abstract:

Building on a literature on local productions and receptions of ‘crisis’ (natural disasters, violent conflicts or epidemics) the panel explores ethnographically what happens when the crisis is ‘over’, international support is withdrawn and rural & urban settings face post-crisis challenges.

Paper long abstract:

Recently, scholars have been describing the local effects of global responses to humanitarian crises on the African continent. These crises include natural disasters, violent conflicts or epidemics. Ethnography has studied the socio-economic and political effects of interventions by international organizations; the latter introducing new structures, resources, knowledge and expertise in local contexts. An often-overlooked question however is; what happens when the crisis is over? One effect of international interventions is the establishment of local NGOs, thereby creating a new labor market and (informal) economies of voluntarism. Another is the building of new infrastructures, such as medical & educational centers and policy institutions, fostering the emergence of new rural and urban educated middle classes. Yet, while humanitarian organizations create such structures for as long as a crisis appears to last, a new crisis often emerges when they terminate support and pull out. Local communities are then faced with post-crisis challenges in how to maintain these structures of expertise, knowledge and labor. How to understand the implications the retrenchment of international support has for the social formations that emerged throughout the crisis? How does this process differ in urban versus rural contexts; does this deepen social and political inequalities between rural and urban communities? What perspectives do people develop as a result of this chronicity of crisis (Vigh 2008)? In many cases the crisis-after-the-crisis triggers a revival of religious responses to this situation; which political or religious actors gain or lose credibility? We are interested in contributions that consider these questions ethnographically.

Panel P107
After the Crisis? Ethnographies of Post-Crisis Situations in Africa