Country Studies

In order to deepen the knowledge on the traditional governance-state relationship, we are in the process of conducting several in-depth country studies. Eventually it is the aim of these case studies to provide within-country as well as across-country comparisons on the relationship of traditional and state institutions.

So far, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia, where traditional institutions of governance play an important role in the every-day life of the people, were selected for our in-depth case studies.

Malawi and Uganda

In Malawi and Uganda, it is investigated how the relationship between traditional and state governance is de facto shaped. Are traditional and state institutions harmonized into an institutional fit? Or are they rather conflicting with each other, hampering progress in the country? These questions are examined in the policy field of land administration, a field where traditional authorities are vividly engaged in. In their role as custodians of customary land, traditional authorities are able to allocate land, grant usufructuary rights or deny access. From November 2015 until March 2016 field research was executed in both countries and 120 interviews with representatives from the state administration, from traditional authorities as well as with experts, and people living under a traditional authority were conducted.  (Daniela Behr)


In Zambia, we aim to illustrate the network of relations between traditional and state authorities. Furthermore, we are interested in the role of traditional authorities in electoral mobilisation and the preferences concerning the future development of traditional institutions. To this end, we conducted first a survey among the members of parliament and the government. This took place between February and April 2016. Later this year, we plan to interview the members of the House of Chiefs and both traditional authorities and candidates to political offices from Central Province. (Axel Bayer)

Additional countries

Additional countries will be chosen for an in-depth analysis of the effect of traditional governance and its interaction with the state in the area of internal security. (The field research will most likely be conducted in late 2016). (Clara Neupert-Wentz)