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Model Transfer in the Making: Changing Development Strategies of, and Expectations towards, the State in Ethiopia and Ghana

Felix Müller (U Leipzig, Germany)
Publication Date2015
PublicationSPP Working Paper No. 15
PublisherDFG Priority Programme (SPP 1448): "Adaptation and Creativity in Africa"
LanguageEnglish
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Abstract:
The working paper provides insight into the research of the CAS-based project “Changing Stateness in Africa: Cameroon, Ethiopia and Ghana compared”. The paper focuses on the state and development conceptions of politicians, state officials, and intellectuals in Ethiopia and Ghana. Based on interviews with key actors, Müller argues that the model of the East Asian developmental state is increasingly prominent in both countries and is perceived, especially in Ethiopia, as a modern alternative to socialism and capitalism



Synopsis:

The working paper provides insight into the research of the CAS-based project “Changing Stateness in Africa: Cameroon, Ethiopia and Ghana compared”, which is part of the DFG Priority Programme (SPP 1448): “Adaptation and Creativity in Africa: Technologies and Significations in the Production of Order and Disorder”. Assuming that external attributions such as “quasi state” or “failed state” cannot capture how stateness in Africa is actually experienced, the paper focuses on the state and development conceptions of politicians, state officials and intellectuals in Ethiopia and Ghana. Based on interviews with key actors, Müller argues that the model of the East Asian developmental state is increasingly prominent in both countries. The author shows how personal visits of Ethiopians and Ghanaians to South Korea, Malaysia and China contribute to the dissemination and adaptation of the model. However, these processes of cultural transfer start from different contexts and are about differing objectives. In Ethiopia, the developmental state is primarily seen as a modern alternative to socialism and capitalism; and the country’s rulers attempt to escape a prolonged crisis of legitimacy with their East Asia-inspired development vision. On the other hand, most Ghanaians stress their hope that an adaptation of certain elements of the developmental state model might enable Ghana to overcome obstacles associated with its current political system. Moreover, both case studies demonstrate the relevance of new models’ compatibility with earlier experiences with stateness.

Biographical Note:
Felix Müller studied African Studies and Global Studies in Leipzig (Germany), Copenhagen (Danmark), Halifax (Canada) and Vienna (Austria). Since May 2013 he works as research assistant at the Centre for Area Studies (Leipzig, Germany) within the project “Changing stateness in Africa”, conducted under the Special Priority Programme of the German Research Foundation (DFG) “Adaptation and Creativity in Africa – Significations and Technologies in the Production of Order and Disorder”.