Coordination among elites often facilitates development goals. Despite variation across sub-Saharan Africa, in places where neither the market nor the state can coordinate collective action, this task falls to informal leaders, among them chiefs and other traditional authorities, but also pastors and other religious leaders. In Malawi, a predominantly Christian country with a substantial Muslim minority, cross-cutting ties among congregations, their members, and their leaders create bases for wider collaborative action. These ties have both a spiritual and a practical dimension. Individuals choose (and frequently change) congregations and denominations; they attend congregations at a distance from their homes; and their clergy visit other congregations and–especially at funerals–meet with each other and with traditional authorities. These practices create a wider ecology of interconnection among churches, but also among villages, chiefs, pastors, and sometimes NGOs and politicians.
Sponsored by the Development and Governance Series, Graduate Program in Development, and the Sociology Colloquium