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Introduction: Unpacking Good Governance

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter states that the ethnographic study of the manifold ways Malawian civil servants negotiated civil service reform and social change constitutes a contribution to the anthropology of the postcolonial state in Africa. This book is based on a fine-grained ethnography of the everyday life of civil servants in Malawi and how they dealt with the implementation of the good governance agenda promoted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The good governance agenda and civil service reform in Africa, in particular, are based on the idea of the "dysfunctionality" of African states, stemming from an imagined disconnect between transplanted "modern" state institutions and "traditional" African society. This study focuses on civil servants in urban and peri-urban areas in the central and southern regions. Lilongwe, the capital, and Zomba, were selected as field sites for one obvious reason: both towns contain sizeable populations of civil servants.

Keywords: civil service reform; dysfunctional African state; IFI's good governance agenda; International Monetary Fund (IMF); Lilongwe; Malawian civil servant; World Bank; Zomba



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