Kevin Donovan

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9276

Approve Date

April 18, 2016

Project Title

Donovan, Kevin Patrick, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Making Markets & Margins in East Africa,' supervised by Dr. Gabrielle Hecht

KEVIN P. DONOVAN, then a graduate student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded funding in April 2016 to aid research on ‘Making Markets & Margins in East Africa,’ supervised by Dr. Gabrielle Hecht. This project is an historical ethnography of the entanglement of political sovereignty and economic valuation. Through research on central banking, market regulation, and commodity smuggling, the study examines how authority rests on contests over value forms and relations. The grantee argues that postcolonial states have been marked by an enduring uncertainty over how best to make value that is amenable to appropriation by state and capital. Data was collected through ethnography and oral historical research in Nairobi and the Kenya-Uganda borderlands, as well as archival research into the history of central banking, the standardization of pricing, and the policing of territorial frontiers. This research will analyze how states have sought to rescale the measure of value, its spatial extent, and its temporal dynamics. In particular, the research examines the infrastructures and ideas undergirding the pragmatic work of central banks, the ambiguities surrounding cross-border smuggling, and the paradoxical relations between popular market practices and official regulatory efforts.