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Research programme

Political Economy (LPEG) network

The Leiden Political Economy Group (L-PEG) is a network of scholars of political economy, development, economic history, economics, and international political economy across various Leiden University programs and institutes and beyond.

Crystal Ennis

We have members from many Dutch universities, institutions, and welcome more. It serves as a platform to share current research and discuss debates in the field. L-PEG currently organises two series: First, the L-PEG lunch seminars, meeting three for four times per semester, which functions as a forum for researchers to share and discuss working papers. Second, the L-PEG Lectures in Global Political Economy, which invites an international scholar to deliver a signature lecture.

Political Economy network events

Seminar 1

Date: 8 February 2019

Title: The Global Politics of African Industrial Policy: The Case of the Used Clothing Ban in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda

Author: Emily Anne Wolff, Leiden Institute of Public Administration

Location: Van Eyckhof 2, Room 5

Time: 13:00-14:30

Registration: Please register in advance at l-peg@hum.leidenuniv.nl to receive a copy of the paper

Abstract: In 2016, the East African Community (EAC) pledged to phase out used clothing imports within three years. Two years later, all Partner States had reneged on their commitment except Rwanda. I draw from 21 original interviews, government publications and secondary literature to explore how the distribution of power in society impacted commitment to the used clothing ban in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. In so doing I probe the plausibility of political settlements theory. Given the mobilization of the US against this particular policy, I expand the theory’s analytical scope beyond domestic borders, incorporating insights from International Political Economy regarding policy space. I argue that commitment to the used clothing ban was a function of: the vulnerability of the ruling coalition to horizontally and vertically excluded factions, the holding power of the US Trade Representative (and allies), and the holding power of foreign-owned, export-oriented garment firms. Global actors influenced policy outcomes, but the effect was moderated by the strength of each ruling coalition. My findings lend support to an underlying premise of political settlements theory: that the distribution of power in society matters for variation in economic performance, provided that the distribution of power in global society is also considered.

Seminar 2

Date: 12 April 2019

Title: “Homosexual practices that even cows disapprove of”? How (not) to respond to anti-LGBT crackdowns

Author: Stephen Brown, Fellow Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, and Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa

Location: Van Eyckhof 2, Room 5

Time: 13:00-14:30

Registration: Please register in advance at l-peg@hum.leidenuniv.nl to receive a copy of the paper

Abstract: The recent government crackdown on the LGBT community in Tanzania highlights dilemmas facing Western foreign aid donors. How do they express their dismay with egregious human rights abuses and encourage African governments to reverse course? Is cutting foreign aid effective or does it actually makes things worse? In what other ways could they help ensure that LGBT rights are recognized and respected?

This paper examines the human rights situation in Tanzania over the past couple of years, placing it in a broader context, and analyses more generally the challenges that Western countries face when trying to promote LGBT rights in Africa. The paper argues that although taking quick, punitive measures may signal virtue to domestic voters, they are rarely helpful on the ground. Instead, donor countries need to listen to local LGBT activists (who usually argue against aid sanctions) and design longer-term strategies based on a nuanced understanding of the roots of state homophobia and crackdowns' links to authoritarian survival strategies. Among other things, donors' responses should be sensitive to the history of Northern countries imposing aid conditionalities on Southern countries and the longer history of unequal North-South relations. Western countries should also be careful to avoid hypocrisy regarding their own LGBT rights records and avoid instrumentalizing LGBT rights. In order to be more effective, the promotion of LGBT rights should be embedded in a more holistic vision of rights, including those of women and other marginalized populations, as well as practice the principle of do no harm.

Seminar 3

Date: 10 May 2019

Title: State-owned enterprises and the politics of innovation in a globalized value chain: The case of natural resource sector

Author: Jewellord Nem Singh, Institute of Political Science, Leiden University

Location: Van Eyckhof 2, Room 5

Time: 13:00-14:30

Registration: Please register in advance at l-peg@hum.leidenuniv.nl to receive a copy of the paper

The established scholarship in political economy has often viewed state ownership on the one hand, and rent-seeking and inefficiency on the other, as two sides of the same coin (Glaesser et. al. 2001; Shirley 1999). However, others have argued for a more complex relationship between state elites and their bureaucrats in SOEs, suggesting corporate reforms in public sectors – especially strategic industries considered to be part of the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy like energy, petroleum, aviation, mining and heavy industry – as politically sensitive if not impossible (Nem Singh & Chen 2018; Pearson 2015). In this debate, the paper aims to make a contribution by examining the ways SOEs are used as instruments of industrial policy and in promoting sectoral innovation. Bringing together the literature on state capitalism and global value chains, it aims to examine the role of SOEs in generating inter-firm linkages that leads to knowledge transfer and promotion of innovation. It will specifically probe into two key elements of an SOE-driven growth model: (a) the ‘institutional fit’ between regulatory frameworks and innovation policies in the context of globalization; and (b) the significance of particular reforms aimed at enhancing the power of SOEs in developing the sector. The paper demonstrates how and under what conditions SOEs can learn from other firms and the role of innovation policy in pursuing this strategy. Importantly, by focussing on the natural resource sector, the paper will examine the strengths and limitations of a state-driven industrial strategy. The empirical evidence is drawn from a comparative study of Brazil’s Petrobras (oil and gas) and Chile’s Codelco (copper mining) though some references are made to other oil and mining SOEs in the global south.

Annual L-PEG Lecture

Date: 17 May 2019

Title: Rethinking the Role of ‘Regions’ in the Global Political Economy: The Gulf Arab States and the Middle East

Speaker: Adam Hanieh, Reader in Development Studies at SOAS, University of London


Location: P.J. Veth, room 1.01


Time: 15:00-17:00


Registration: Please register in advance at: https://forms.gle/Do97Yo2yQPo6vLeg7


Abstract: From the wars in Yemen and Syria to political transitions in other Arab states, the significant role of the Gulf Arab states in the affairs of the wider Middle East has become strikingly evident over recent years. Nonetheless, despite the growing prominence of the Gulf states, there is still relatively little academic work that both theorises the Gulf’s political economy and simultaneously places this within the dynamics of the regional scale. Drawing upon larger debates around the nature of the global political economy and the rising influence of emerging powers outside the West, this talk demonstrates how the hierarchical and sharply uneven development of the Middle East is increasingly bound up with forms of capitalism in the Gulf. These trends are not only essential to understanding the Middle East today, but can teach us much about the interdependencies and rivalries that mark the contemporary world market.


Bio: Adam Hanieh is a Reader in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He holds a PhD in Political Science from York University, Canada (2009). His research focuses on the political economy of the Middle East and class/state formation in the Gulf. He is a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Palestine Studies (SOAS) and co-chair of the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies (SOAS). He is the author of several books on the Middle East, most recently Money, Markets, and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2018).


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