Call for Papers: Crossing the Lines? Local actors’ responses to developmental challenges in Africa 

Crossing the Lines? Local actors’ responses to developmental challenges in Africa 



Pedro Figueiredo Neto (ICS-ULisboa)

Edalina Rodrigues Sanches (ISCTE-IUL)

Ndangwa Noyoo (University of Cape Town)



Enduring colonial legacies continue to shape contemporary politics and policies in Africa. As former and new actors strive seek to expand economic and political influence in the continent, subtler forms of domination arise to accommodate neo- and post-colonial agendas – but not without facing local resistance, resilience and subversion.

Extant scholarship has focused on how models of  political and economic development flow from the North to the Global South, thereby neglecting the role of African agency and the mechanisms used by local actors to resist and cope with the challenges of development. This special  issue aims at going beyond the mere Manichaean critique between external intervention/interference and local grievances. It interconnects two arguments that point to, and question, the relevance of both structure and agency. The first argument is that, the politics development, is shaped by power relations that are seeded in the colonial past and that are continuously reinvented in the present. The second argument is that African (state and non-state) political actors, use the available room for maneuver— or simply tend to operate within received sociocultural frameworks —, in order to resist, take advantage, change and voice discontent towards the inequalities and imbalances generated by developmental projects, aid distribution, democratic pushes, or nature conservation programs.

This special issue aim at shedding light at such phenomenon from a crosscut, bird view perspective. For that matter, we invite contributions from all disciplines – namely economics, political science, geography, sociology, history, and anthropology; development studies, etc. – and we highly encourage the participation of Western and African scholars alike.

We ask our contributors to address the interdependence between agency and structure, to the explore the importance of local context in fields such democratization, aid and development, politics of resources and nature conservation, governance, policy implementation, inter alia. The overarching question is How do different actors face/respond to the challenges of political and economic development?


Keywords:  Africa, post-colonialism, local state and non-state actors, local knowledge, spaces, voices, policies, protest, accountability, resilience and change, development, aid, humanitarianism, democracy, environment.


Guidelines for Authors:

The articles should be explicit in terms of questions and goals and on what empirical material will be used to answer special issue’s overarching question.

Contributions should be sent to  until 31 January 2021.

Submitted papers must be original and written in English (see publication guidelines here:



Editors’ Biographical Notes


Pedro Figueiredo Neto is an architect, anthropologist and filmmaker, currently postdoctoral research fellow at the Instituto de Ciências Sociais, University of Lisbon (ICS-ULisboa). His investigation focus on events of forced displacement, urban informal development and the proliferation of spaces of exception, mainly in the Southern African context.


Edalina Rodrigues Sanches is Assistant Professor in African Studies at the ISCTE-IUL. Her research interests comprise democratization, political institutions, elections, political parties and party systems and political behavior, with a focus on Africa. She recently published Party Systems in Young Democracies: Varieties of institutionalization in Sub-Saharan Africa (Routledge, 2018).


Ndangwa Noyoo is an Associate Professor and former Head of the Department of Social Development at the University of Cape Town. His research interests are: Social Policy, Social Development, Public Policy-Making and Indigenous Knowledge Systems. He is a co-editor of the book, Indigenous Social Security Systems in Southern and West Africa, and author of the book, Public Policy-Making in the Mbeki Era. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) from the University of the Witwatersrand, a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from the University of Zambia. He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris, France, 2005-06.