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Transforming Institutions: The Politics of Debt Relief in Kenya

Andrea Rigon,
Institute for International Integration Studies, Department of Sociology, Trinity College, Dublin. Research Associate, Institute of Development Studies, University of Nairobi.
Trinity College Dublin.

IIIS Discussion Paper No. 341


Through a multi-sited and multi-level exploration of the processes around debt relief in Kenya, and of the complex network of actors involved and their interests, the political nature of debt relief is investigated and assessed. An actor-network approach is used to investigate the political processes taking place between civil society and the state, and how global policies have been translated into the local arena and played out in the local politics. This paper will illustrate how both the state and civil society are fragmented arenas of contrasting interests and separation among the two is only analytical while in reality the borders are blurred. This paper argues that debt relief is the result of a complex political process that, once in place, can create new political processes, thus having implications beyond the economic sphere. Debt relief mobilises a high number of actors pursuing different agendas, creating new possibilities and new relationships with a transformative potential that challenges power relations and changes institutions.

Keywords : State and Civil Society, Debt Relief, Debt-for-Development, Illegitimate Debt, Actor-Network Theory.
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Last updated 28 August 2014 by IIIS (Email).