We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Internal Communications
  • Need to know

    Need to know
  • Latest news

    Latest news
  • Events and Activities

    Events and Activities
  • Lectures and Seminars

    Lectures and Seminars

Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS) seminar series 2018/19

(5 December 2018)

A seminar entiled 'African Chiefs: Comparative Governance under Colonial Rule' will be given by Dr Liya Palagashvili, State University of New York and NYU School of Law, on Tuesday, 11 December at 5pm in W414, Department of Geography. All are welcome and refreshments will be provided. Please email to confirm your attendance. For more information please visit the website.


This paper analyzes how British colonial rule altered the club-like and competitive features of chiefdoms and weakened the incentives of political leaders to be accountable to citizens. Political institutions in late pre-colonial West Africa aligned the incentives of the chiefs such that they were responsive to their people. Alignment arose because of a high degree of competition between governance providers and because political leaders were effectively the residual claimants on revenues generated from providing governance services. I identify the mechanisms by which colonialism severed the link that aligned the incentives of government with those of its citizens. British indirect rule did that by reducing political competition and softening the budget constraints of the chiefs. Toward the end of colonial rule, chiefs became less accountable to their people as evidenced by the widespread corruption and extortion by the chiefs and by their unprecedented constitutional violations and abuses of power.

Personal webpage:

Have something to include?

Please liaise with the designated contact for your department or college. For further guidance, email

Get in touch