CfP: “Clientelism in 21st century: Theory and Practice in South Asia”- PJHS (Summer 2021) (deadline: 2021-04-05)


We are seeking papers on the theme of “Clientelism in 21st century: Theory and Practice in South Asia” for the summer 2021 issue of the semi-annual scholarly journal, Pakistan Journal of Historical Studies (PJHS), published by the Indiana University Press (Bloomington, USA).

Clientelism is a broad concept ‘at the crossroads of politics and administration, economy and society (Roniger, 2004:354). Reflecting this multifaceted nature, the study of clientelism has been a common domain for anthropologists, historians, sociologists and political scientists (Scott, 1977:483). Given this variety, no wonder the concept means ‘different things to different people’ (Stokes, 2007:2) and this difference grows bigger when people come from various disciplinary backgrounds. In particular, definitions attributed to the same concept by anthropologists on one hand, and political scientists, on the other hand, has proved to be so divergent that it becomes indispensable to specify them at the outset, which type of clientelism or patronage is being analysed (Weingrod, 1968:380). For instance, Weigngrod defines patronage in the anthropological sense as a type of social relationship ‘analysis of how persons of unequal authority, yet linked through ties of interest and friendship, manipulate their relationships in order to attain their ends’ (1968: 379-80). Patronage from the political scientist’s perspective, on the other hand, takes the political party as the main unit of analysis, and “refers to the ways in which party politicians distribute public jobs or special favours in exchange for electoral support” (ibid: 379). It is “largely the study of how political party leaders seek to turn public institutions and public resources to their own ends, and how favours of various kinds are exchanged for votes” (ibid.).

Against this backdrop, our working definition of clientelism for this special issue will be in the words of Piattoni’s, “the trade of votes and other types of partisan support in exchange for public decisions with divisible benefits, which involves not only the distribution of jobs and goods but also the exploitation of the entire machinery of the state as “a token of exchange” (2001a: 4). This makes political clientelism literature a useful toolkit to analyse the political system around South Asia.

Research questions (but not limited to) which will be addressed in this special issue are?

  • Does decentralisation in local bodies promote clientelism in South Asia?
  • Why do politicians embark on clientelistic behaviour and why do citizens respond?
  • What are national and subnational patterns of patronage?
  • What can be done to combat political clientelism as a form of political corruption?
  • What are the various models have the South Asian states adopted to keep clientelism at bay?

Types of papers

We welcome papers on this concept from academicians/activists/students working across South Asia. The papers can either be theoretical, empirical or comparative studies contributing to the existing literature.

Contact Info: Ali Daud Ul Rehman, Assistant Editor, Pakistan Journal of Historical Studies (PJHS).

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