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Studying the Dynamics of African Bureaucracies. An Introduction to States at Work

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter presents an overview of the book States at Work: Dynamics of African Bureaucracies which contributes to the academic debates on processes of state-building in Africa and, among development practitioners, on the role of the state in development, by underpinning these debates with an empirical grounding than is often the case in the existing literature. The book analyses the 'real' workings of states and public bureaucracies in African countries. It defines the public services of the Global South, and in Africa, as a legitimate and productive object of anthropological enquiry. The book develops an intensive dialogue in the context of the study of the state between anthropology and other disciplines, and shows that anthropologists, in particular, need to engage the sociology of organization and bureaucracy in the North, while the latter would profit from taking the results of the ethnographies of states in the Global South into account.

Keywords: Africa; anthropology; bureaucracy; ethnography



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