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WCED Lecture. Judicial Politics in Africa

Fiona Shen-Bayh, WCED postdoctoral fellow, U-M
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
4:00-5:30 PM
555 Weiser Hall Map
Existing research in comparative politics has focused on the legislative, bureaucratic, and coercive tools of autocratic survival, but judicial institutions remain comparatively understudied. In fact, courts are more often portrayed as safeguards against dictatorship rather than as enablers of arbitrary rule. This project takes a different approach by looking at the role courts play in autocratic survival and state repression. It specifically examines how the type of threat affects when and how autocrats use judicial procedures. Using cases from sub-Saharan Africa, Shen-Bayh analyzes the repressive logic of political trials, how judicial institutions are designed to facilitate these outcomes, and how patterns of judicial repression can become institutionalized over time. These findings contribute to our understanding of the judicial dimensions of autocratic survival.

Fiona Shen-Bayh is a WCED Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-20). Her current research looks at the role judicial and extrajudicial strategies of repression play in autocratic survival. She specifically examines how autocrats weaponize courts to eliminate political rivals and the effects of such practices on post-autocratic rule of law. Drawing on the experiences of sub-Saharan African countries in the postcolonial period, her findings show that repression methods often vary according to the source of the threat, which has important ramifications for how arbitrary rule is legitimized. By highlighting the repressive character of courts, this research deepens our understanding of how autocrats establish law and order and defuse threats to power.

If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this event, please reach out to at least 2 weeks in advance of this event. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Africa, Authoritarianism, Democracy, International, Law, Politics
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, International Institute, African Studies Center

The Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies organizes a number of public events each year such as lectures, conferences, and films, many in collaboration with other U-M units. Please use our searchable events calendar for information about upcoming programs sponsored by WCED.

To see all events organized by WCED and other affiliates of the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia this semester, click the image to the right for a PDF calendar.