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David Livingstone and Heritage Diplomacy in Malawi–Scotland Relations

This article engages with discourses of public memory and heritage as constituted by the biography of David Livingstone to understand how the past is instrumentalised in present-day Malawi and Scotland. It discusses how in Malawi and Scotland, Livingstone’s memory has influenced, and continues to influence, the making of bilateral relations between these two nations. Drawing on archival and documentary sources, interviews and exhibition analysis the article argues that the memory and mythology of David Livingstone have been preserved and reconstructed to enhance international co-operation between the two nations in what could be understood as ‘heritage diplomacy’. This heritage diplomacy makes claims to a mutual relationship that spans from Livingstone’s arrival on Malawian territory through the colonial period and into the post-colonial present. Moreover, this heritage diplomacy functions to create and strengthen strategic bilateral economic, cultural and political ties. At the same time, it promotes and solidifies Scotland’s national identity and its aspirations to sovereignty, autonomy and to the status of a global player. Commemorations, memorials, museum exhibitions, state institutions and civil organisations have become the main sites through which Livingstone’s memory is invoked or reconstructed as a shared heritage to facilitate international co-operation. The article contributes to our understanding of how heritage diplomacy is mobilised by nations to reinforce relations and promote their interests.

The Enduring Legacy of British-Promulgated Institutions on Civil Liberties and Governance in Post-Independence Malawi: An Analysis Grounded in Historical Institutionalism

A British protectorate from 1891, Malawi became independent in 1964. Historians typically recognise the period from 1964 to at least the early 1990s as one in which Malawi was under the dictatorship of President Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Freedom of expression was virtually non-existent in public and human rights were violated as a norm. However, as a result of both external and internal pressure, Banda was compelled to call for a referendum in 1993 and an overwhelming majority voted for multi-party democracy. Later, in 1994, the country adopted a new Constitution, one that clearly separates the three branches of government and guarantees civil rights. The new Constitution notwithstanding, there remain many provisions in the statutes and the legal codes that can be, and are, used by the authorities to repress or punish expression and to abuse citizen’s rights. Moreover, although the new Constitution clearly separates the three branches of government and ascribes to them their respective powers, several presidents have endeavoured to dominate the other two branches of government. Using an approach grounded in historical institutionalism, specifically the concept of path dependence, this article traces Malawi’s current socio-political institutions all the way back to when the country was a British protectorate. In so doing, the article takes a somewhat sympathetic view of the Banda dictatorship, showing how the institutions established under British rule influenced how Banda governed. Critically, the article shows that elements of these institutions continue to have an impact on civil rights and governance in Malawi today.