Order at the End of the World: Neoliberal Orthodoxy, Economic Regulation, and Market Associations in Fragile Settings

A British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship held at Oxford by Nafay Choudhury, from 2022 to 2023.

This project explores the modes of governance that exist outside and alongside the state, particularly in fragile settings characterized by weak state institutions. I study the role of market associations - non-state groups of businesses sharing a common set of interests - in defining the scope of rights possessed by their members. Associations are crucial for understanding the nature of rights and the operation of law in fragile settings, despite receiving scant attention in existing scholarship. Through an empirical study of four associations – two in Afghanistan, and two in the Democratic Republic of Congo - this project examines the intermediary role played by associations between market actors and the state. By focusing on non-state legal ordering, governance becomes a dispersed project accomplished by both state and nonstate actors and institutions; consequently, understanding legal order requires understanding the role of market associations in mediating the rights of individuals and businesses.