Research projects Gerhard Anders
The Special Court for Sierra Leone: International criminal justice in its socio-cultural context (funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, 2006-2010)
The project is an ethnographic study of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. It contextualises international criminal justice in Africa by, on the one hand, studying the court itself as a subject of ethnographic inquiry and, on the other hand, by exploring its socio-cultural context in West Africa. The study aims at contributing to the debate about the pros and cons of international criminal justice, which is divided between its proponents who see international criminal tribunals as building blocks of global legal order, and its critics who denounce such tribunals as a form of victor’s justice and Western hegemony.
The research includes the analysis of popular imaginaries, perceptions of, and theories about, the court in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Of particular interest are the complex relationships between academic and public debates in Europe and North America as well as current debates about transitional justice and the legacy of the civil wars in West Africa.
Such an anthropological study from below, so to speak, will make a different and much needed contribution to a field that is dominated by legal studies and political science, in particular by offering an empirically grounded and more nuanced understanding of the quickly developing fields of international criminal justice and transitional justice. Considering that the majority of cases dealt with by international criminal tribunals concern Africa – often dubbed “the laboratory of international criminal justice” – studying an African situation in depth is of particular importance.
In the Shadow of Good Governance: An ethnography of civil service reform in Africa (funded by the Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research WOTRO,1999-2004)
The project traced the implementation of the good governance agenda in Malawi from the loan documents signed by the representatives of the government and the Bretton Woods institutions to the individual experiences of civil servants who responded in unforeseen ways to the reform measures. Ethnographic evidence gathered in government offices, neighbourhoods and the private homes of civil servants living in Malawi’s urban and peri-urban areas undermines the common perception of a disconnection between state institutions and society in Africa. Instead, the project resulted in a subtle and detailed ethnographic account of civil servants’ attempts to negotiate the effects of civil service reform and economic crisis at the turn of the 21st century.