Elites and the Politics of Accountability in Africa

Wale Adebanwi and Rogers Orock, Editors
Studying elites through the framework of accountability


Elites and the Politics of Accountability in Africa examines the ways that accountability offers an effective interpretive lens to the social, cultural, and institutional struggles of both the elites and ordinary citizens in Africa. Each chapter investigates questions of power, its public deliberation, and its negotiation in Africa by studying elites through the framework of accountability. The book enters conversations about political subjectivity and agency, especially from ongoing struggles around identities and belonging, as well as representation and legitimacy. Who speaks to whom? And on whose behalf do they speak? The contributors to this volume offer careful analyses of how such concerns are embedded in wider forms of cultural, social, and institutional discussions about transparency, collective responsibility, community, and public decision-making processes. These concerns affect prospects for democratic oversight, as well as questions of alienation, exclusivity, privilege and democratic deficit. The book situates our understanding of the emergence, meaning, and conceptual relevance of elite accountability, to study political practices in Africa. It then juxtaposes this contextualization of accountability in relation to the practices of African elites. Elites and the Politics of Accountability in Africa offers fresh, dynamic, and multifarious accounts of elites and their practices of accountability and locally plausible self-legitimation, as well as illuminating accounts of contemporary African elites in relation to their socially and historicallysituated outcomes of contingency, composition, negotiation, and compromise.

Wale Adebanwi is Rhodes Professor of Race Relations and Director of African Studies Centre, University of Oxford.

Rogers Orock is Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Praise / Awards

  • “Each chapter makes a genuine contribution to scholarship and illustrates the various understandings of accountability, its levels, and the forms it takes in various communities. The case studies provide an excellent opportunity to interrogate the role of elites in various contexts, including Morocco, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Sudan, South Africa, and Mauritius. The authors show a deep and wide understanding of accountability and the range of scholarship that bears on the chosen topics. It makes a huge contribution to scholarship in this field.”
    — Muna Ndulo, Cornell University

  • "Integrated by the critical analysis of accountability, these essays by anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists, historians and a media studies expert advance a radical departure in the long tradition of African studies of postcolonial elites and their relations with the state and ordinary citizens. It turns from disillusion, demonizing postcolonial elites, as ever all too powerful in their self-interest, to analysing the complexities of their accountability."
    —Richard Werbner, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of Manchester, UK, author of Reasonable Radicals and Citizenship in Botswana: The Public Anthropology of Kalanga Elites

Product Details

  • 424 pages.
  • 21 illustrations, 11 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2021
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12873-0

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  • Elites; Accountability; Elite accountability; elites in Africa; politics of accountability in Africa; state capture; democracy; elite association; elite reproduction; corruption; political representation; governance;  state-society relations in Africa