International Development Planning Review 40.1 Featured Article

Posted on February 07, 2018 by Megan Ainsworth

The editors of International Development Planning Review have selected 'Managing political space: authority, marginalised people’s agency and governance in West Bengal' by Sailaja Nandigama and Glyn Williams, as the Featured Article for the latest issue.

The article is open access. Read it here

When asked to describe the paper, and highlight its importance, Glyn Williams stated the following:

Decentralisation of government in the Global South has long been called for by international development agencies. The World Bank has promoted it as a mechanism for ‘making government work for poor people’, and as a key part of a broader good governance agenda. Decentralisation of the formal structures of government can be achieved through reforms – such as transferring control of resources to local councils, or insisting that these are subject to direct elections – but our work focuses on the implications of this for everyday practices of rule. It asks what does decentralisation do to the way in which authority is exercised, and what spaces does it open up for poor people to express their political agency? West Bengal, in eastern India, provides a valuable context to ask these questions, as it began its own indigenously-driven experiment with decentralisation in the 1970s, and was for a long time seen as a leading example of pro-poor government reform.

In this paper, we use detailed qualitative work in two rural local councils (panchayats) to understand the interplay between institutional change and the ways in which rule is actually practiced and experienced on the ground. Our findings highlight important differences between conditions within this ‘mature’ example of decentralisation and the outcomes hoped for by those promoting decentralisation as a route to good governance. Local leaders perform their authority by deliberately mixing their formal roles within local government bodies, their existing social capital, and practices of patronage and coercion. Elections to the local councils have intensified party-political rivalries, and brought these to the forefront of the ways in which villagers find themselves identified by others.

Finally, and as a result, poorer people find their political agency limited to tactical attempts to position themselves relative to powerful bosses and political parties.
The wider importance of these findings is not to denigrate well-intentioned drives for reform, but to highlight their potential for unintended consequences, and argue for better understanding of the contexts in which they are operating. Studying how everyday practices of rule are actually experienced ‘from below’ is a vital first step if we are to identify pathways towards more democratic local governance.

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Haitian Studies from Liverpool University Press

Posted on February 01, 2018 by Heather Gallagher

LUP’s mission is to disseminate high quality research and to promote learning and culture through our publications. As such we've compiled our list of titles which study and explore Haiti in response to recent demand for a lasting conversation on the subject. 

Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature
Haiti Rising
Writing on the Fault Line
The Colonial System Unveiled
Friends and Enemies
Tropics of Haiti
Beyond the Slave Narrative 
On the Edge: Writing the Border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Haiti Unbound
The Haiti Exception
Architextual Authenticity
Fathers, Daughters, and Slaves
The Caribbean
Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean

Having encouraged publishers, scholars and the twittersphere to share their knowledge and resources on this subject, we asked Marlene Daut, (Associate Professor of African Diaspora Studies at the University of Virginia and Editor of H-Haiti) to comment:

'The robust response by many journalists, scholars, and the general public contesting President Donald Trump’s insulting and racist characterization of Haiti and Haitians has been gratifying in so many ways. However, learning about Haiti’s history, so as to be able to think and write thoughtfully about the country and its people with intention, reflexivity, and care, will require that we read much more than a series of Op-Eds. I truly hope the general reading public might take this as an opportunity, then, to engage with the robust and longstanding scholarship on Haiti produced by Haitians, the Haitian diaspora, and scholars from across the world. Creating lasting change will require all of us, including, politicians, journalists, students, publishers, and scholars, to consent to re-education about not only the language we use when discussing Haiti and Haitians, but our core beliefs about people who may be different from us.'

Forthcoming in 2019:

Migrations and Refuge Haitian Literature from the Eco-Archive by John Patrick Walsh

This book will deliver an innovative theoretical approach that combines the historical awareness of Haitian studies with postcolonial ecocriticism. It will challenge the idea of a tipping point of a global refugee crisis by taking up an array of stories on Haitian migrants and refugees, past and present.

(John Patrick Walsh is Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Pittsburgh)

For the month of February we're offering 40% off of all of our Haitian studies titles. Please use discount code HAITI40 or follow this link for the discount to be automatically applied. 


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Liverpool University Press moves back to permanent offices

Posted on January 26, 2018 by Heather Gallagher

Liverpool University Press are moving back home to 4 Cambridge Street from Monday 29th of January.

Please excuse our slightly slower response time during the week. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Please now direct all mail back to our permanent address at:

Liverpool University Press

4 Cambridge Street


L69 7ZU

Telephone and email contacts will remain unchanged.

Thank you for your patience.

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International Development Planning Review: Call for a Co-Editor

Posted on January 26, 2018 by Megan Ainsworth

The International Development Planning Review (IDPR) invites applications for the position of Co-Editor. 

International Development Planning Review is a peer-reviewed journal which provides an interdisciplinary platform for the critical study of development related practices, planning and policy in the global South.

Applications should be submitted to Clare Hooper, Head of Journals at Liverpool University Press ( as soon as possible and not later than 30 March 2018.

Potential applicants are welcome to contact the continuing co-editor Dan Hammett ( submitting an application. 

For more details, please see the Call for a new Co-Editor.

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Michael Garval introduces his article 'Beyond Bocuse'

Posted on January 25, 2018 by Megan Ainsworth

Paul Bocuse died last week, at 91, at his flagship restaurant in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, like an emperor entombed in his self-made mausoleum. As I argue in “Beyond Bocuse,” my contribution to the special current issue of Contemporary French Civilization 42.3-4, the great chef’s passing was long anticipated, in ways as intriguing as they are revealing:

Chef Paul Bocuse (born 1926) has long been seen as the living embodiment of French haute cuisine, the standard bearer for this prestigious tradition. As he approaches the end of his life, tributes have turned monumental, with statues erected, places renamed in his honor, a giant street mural in Lyon bearing his likeness, and even a colossal effigy of him as a float in the Carnaval de Nice. While there is some historical precedent for lionizing French chefs, no other has ever been the object of such extensive and emphatic veneration. This is all the more noteworthy at a time when French culinary preeminence, long a linchpin of French national identity, has been challenged at home and abroad (Lazareff, Steinberger).

So, what do these monumental homages mean? How do they compare with earlier tributes to French chefs, or to Bocuse himself? What might they tell us, not only about Bocuse as a public figure, but about the perceived state of French cuisine, French gastronomy, and France itself, both today and tomorrow – in a future beyond Bocuse?

The heart of Bocuse’s culinary universe, the Auberge du pont de Collonges, or Restaurant Paul Bocuse, is where he made his reputation and held three Michelin stars for over a half century. Long seen as the cornerstone of his legacy, the restaurant is a place already marked, during the chef’s lifetime, by both his presence and absence:

While master of this realm, for decades already the jet-setting chef has not always been there, raising questions about his presence and absence, anticipating a time when he will be gone forever. Customers, Zizza-Lalu explains, should realize the restaurant’s quality doesn’t waver when he’s away, because his chef des cuisines “fait jouer la partition bocusienne … en toute saison.” Diners who think dishes taste better when he’s there are experiencing “une … saveur exclusivement sentimentale.” Bocuse knows his clientele and, recognizing “le pouvoir de l’imaginaire sur leurs papilles,” alerts his employees: “Avis à tout l’équipage, bureau, cuisine, salle: je suis toujours ici. Pas d’info sur les voyages aux clients.” To further reassure diners who so value his presence, he offers abundant stand-ins for his person:

Paul a multiplié les images de Bocuse dans son restaurant. Ces représentations du chef … sont autant d’icônes tendues au visiteur venu approcher le ‘saint patron’ des cuisiniers. Cet ensemble d’oeuvres … compose une étrange collection, un petit musée de l’homme Bocuse qu’on visite au son des couteaux et des fourchettes. (Zizza-Lalu 123)

This use of visual substitutes harks back to Louis XIV’s practice of “régner par effigies interposées” (Gardes 15), notably through statues installed in the provinces and in newly vanquished cities abroad, with the king’s likenesses ruling for him, “trying to command space in the sovereign’s absence, much as nineteenth-century monuments to great men, raised after their death, would seek to transcend time” (Garval 22). So too sculptural and other recent monumental tributes to Bocuse, channeling royal and great man monument traditions, aim to command space and transcend time, both within the more narrowly defined realm of his restaurant and in the broader public sphere.

A local hero in his native Lyon, Bocuse also became a national and international figure, and was treated thus in a float at the 2014 Carnaval de Nice. This monumental likeness, entitled Bocuse Imperator, played a prominent role in the Corso carnavalesque, a procession inspired by the event’s annual theme – for 2014, la gastronomie:

Tellingly, even this most imposing of chef likenesses, for the most celebrated of contemporary French chefs, remains haunted by impermanence and inadequacy, by lingering doubts about the chef ’s status as public figure, harking back to an enduring vision of chefs as ineligible for monumental commemoration, despite their accomplishments – a vision that . . . has long plagued chef tributes, from the first, abortive attempts in the early twentieth century, through the most recent homages to Paul Bocuse.

Bocuse Imperator needs to be seen within this broader context offered by the Corso carnavalesque, of a food culture in transition, evolving in different directions, with haute cuisine playing an ever more limited role. [It] embodies the worrisome prospect of the great chef’s passing, its ambivalence and precariousness figuring anxieties, not only about the uncertain future of an elite French gastronomic tradition, but also, through this longstanding touchstone of French identity, about France’s broader place in the world.

Ultimately, the Corso carnavalesque puts on parade a pivotal moment in the history of French cuisine and gastronomy, poised between vestiges of the past and glimpses of a future already unfolding. We see France leaving behind a gastronomic model that emerged and prevailed over the past few hundred years, from Louis XIV’s court at Versailles through the rise of nouvelle cuisine in the 1970s – a movement of which Bocuse was seen as a key leader, and also the last great worldwide wave of French culinary influence (much like Sartre and existentialism in the philosophical realm, a quarter century earlier). In the figure of Bocuse Imperator, we feel the baggage of a largely bygone past, including a still incompletely realized desire to offer cherished chefs as full a tribute as other sorts of public figures once received. Though it’s unclear exactly where France is headed, something new is always built on the ruins of something old, so what might be taking shape amid the debris?

Learning of Bocuse’s death, my co-editor Philippe Dubois emailed me: “Le roi est mort.  Vive le roi!”  But what sort of régime—in all senses of the word—might now await the French?  Our special issue, on the theme “Beyond Gastronomy,” offers a range of perspectives on this question, so please have a look! 

This blog post was written by Michael Garval.

Read the complete article here.

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