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“Hybrid Governance,” Legitimacy, and (Il)legality in the Informal Cross-Border Trade in Panyimur, Northwest Uganda


By looking at a number of different commodities and how they are traded, this article shows how informal cross-border trade in West Nile and Panyimur, Uganda, is governed by a locally negotiated system of hybrid governance, in which neither state nor nonstate actors have a regulatory monopoly. Notions such as legality and illegality are secondary to the functioning of these hybrid institutions, which instead are the outcome of perceptions of the legitimacy of regulatory actions and trading practices and the power configurations of the actors involved. There are different “registers” at play about what constitutes legitimate economic action among different moral communities, but the actual impact of this system depends on the power of the strategic groups involved.


En regardant un certain nombre de produits différents et la façon dont ils sont négociés, cet article montre comment le commerce informel transfrontalier dans la région du Nil occidental et le Panyimur est régi par un système négocié localement de gouvernance hybride, dans lequel les acteurs qui ont un monopole réglementaire ne proviennent ni de l’intérieur ni de l’extérieur du pouvoir d’Etat. Des notions telles que la légalité et l’illégalité sont secondaires pour le fonctionnement de ces institutions hybrides, qui sont plutôt le résultat de la perception de légitimité des mesures de réglementation, des pratiques commerciales et des configurations de puissance des acteurs impliqués. Il existe différents “registres” en jeu parmi les différentes communautés morales sur ce qui constitue la légitimité d’une action économique, mais l’impact réel de ce système dépend de la puissance des groupes stratégiques impliqués.

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