The Global Studies Seminar presents a talk titled “Corruption in Mozambique, Zambia, Bolivia, and Honduras,” by Brian Norris, visiting assistant professor of political science at Denison.
Corruption is the use of public resources for private gain. Yet this definition can include a wide variety of human behavior from former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang’s stealing two billion dollars to an elementary school teacher accepting a bribe for a seat in a class in the same country. Political scientists and economists have written about corruption assuming that norms of propriety are static and officials’ behavior simply deviates from these norms, but in fact societies’ definitions of what is appropriate behavior changes over time as the ‘public sector’ is redefined. Corruption afflicts the Global South, a concept that includes up to two billion people, disproportionately. Comparative ethnographic work from countries representative of the Global South can provide the needed context to understand what corruption is and what it is not and how societies’ perception of it changes over time. This exploratory research is based in part on 44 interviews in Mozambique (2018), 22 in Zambia (2017), fieldwork in Honduras (2015), and Bolivia (1997-2009).
Norris studies comparative politics, defined as the local politics of foreign lands, and Latin American politics. He has made 32 professional trips abroad since 1997 and lived in Latin America for five years. He is author of “Prison Bureaucracies in the United States, Mexico, India, and Honduras” and several articles dealing with various facets of democratic institutional development in the Global South.