Sociology African Societies
by
Linda Semu
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0145

Introduction

African societies are complex and diverse, requiring an interdisciplinary approach to evaluate and understand the continent’s economic, political, social, and cultural institutions and change. The study of African societies has become an established area of scholarship, with sophisticated analyses that are far from earlier works that presented them in simplistic terms and only in relation to the “developed” other regions. African societies have a philosophical worldview that is borne of the circumstance in which African peoples operate. This worldview has begun to gain currency in recent scholarship, starting with John Mbiti, who articulated it for the global readership. As issues of social and cultural change come to the forefront, this worldview has been captured in the writings of African literary authors who utilized their oral traditions to capture the dynamism and complexity of societies undergoing change. Inevitably, issues of economic development come to the fore, and while socio-historical factors have been critical in Africa’s stunted development, it is clear that even those who have purported to assist the continent have also let it down through their policy inconsistencies. Similarly, as grafted policy, economic and governance systems have not been adapted to suit local conditions, and governance and political challenges have further shortchanged African societies. Still, as more voices are being heard from scholars, policymakers, and practitioners, the diversity and complexity of African societies are being appreciated, which should lead to better outcomes. The categories used in this article are for organizational purposes only, because issues related the study of African societies are cross-cutting. They should therefore not be seen as definitive categories but rather as fluid organizational pillars that could be arranged and flow in various directions.

General Overviews

These works provide general overviews on African societies, by examining critical concepts, methodological issues, and new developments. The persistent and emerging development challenges within African societies have led scholars and Africanists to question received wisdom on development and to attempt to come up with alternative ways of studying, understanding, and prescribing solutions to the continent. The works in this section represent some alternative strategies and emerging intellectual orientations to the study of African societies. Bradshaw, et al. 1995 argues that African scholars should be involved in the theory-building process that utilizes interdisciplinary work, a view also addressed in Bandawe 2005 and Logan, et al. 2012. Hence, Ellis and ter Haar 2004 posits that African politics must be understood within the context of religious ideas that exist in the continent. Davison 1996 and Sudarkasa 1986 take this question further as the authors address methodological issues in the study of African women, while Mugambi, et al. 2010 focuses on the question of African masculinity, which the authors argue must be understood from multiple perspectives.

  • Bandawe, Chiwoza R. 2005. Psychology brewed in an African pot: Indigenous philosophies and the quest for relevance. Higher Education Policy 18.3: 289–300.

    DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.hep.8300091Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author of this article narrates experiences of making a psychology course at University of Malawi’s College of Medicine relevant to the country’s sociocultural and economic situation, by incorporating the Ubuntu worldview (I am because you are, and because you are, therefore I am), which is uniquely Malawian in its implementation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Bradshaw, York W., Paul J. Kaiser, and Stephen N. Ndegwa. 1995. Rethinking theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of African development. African Studies Review 38.2: 39–65.

      DOI: 10.2307/525317Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      This article argues that development processes are complex and depend on interaction between factors at various levels. It goes further to propose a methodological strategy called qualitative comparative analysis, which combines the strengths of qualitative and quantitative methods to examine phenomena at global, national, and local levels. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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      • Davison, Jean. 1996. Voices from Mutira: Change in the lives of rural Gikuyu women, 1910–1995. 2d ed. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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        This book addresses the key questions of how to study and narrate change in African societies, in ways that empower those studied. Recommended reading for scholars, students, and practitioners interested in understanding gender, women’s lives, development, research methods, and African culture and history.

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        • Ellis, Stephen, and Gerrie ter Haar. 2004. Worlds of power: Religious thought and political practice in Africa. Hunt Series in Contemporary History and World Affairs. London: C. Hurst.

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          This book argues that the presence of religious influence in politics is not by coincidence but is a revived continuation of tradition that scholars of African politics must pay attention to as they flesh out an African epistemology that relates to the spirit world, whose mediums are traditional spiritual mediums and whose religious leaders’ advice is regularly sought by African politicians.

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          • Logan, B. Ikubolajeh, Francis Y. Owusu, and Ezekiel Kalipeni, eds. 2012. Special issue: Beyond the “post” and revisionist discourses in African development; Exploring real solutions to Africa’s problems. Progress in Development Studies 12.2–3.

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            A special issue whose articles conduct a critical inquiry in African politics, administration, and development discourse so as to challenge the disingenuous intellectual and policy approaches to Africa’s problems. The articles advocate a move toward local- and community-driven solutions to Africa’s problems rather than recycling the same old theories that have proven bankrupt as far as solving Africa’s problems is concerned. Articles available online for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Mugambi, Helen Nabasuta, and Tuzyline Jita Allan, eds. 2010. Masculinities in African literary and cultural texts. Banbury, UK: Ayebia Clarke.

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              This collection of eighteen interdisciplinary essays by African and Africanist scholars examines multiple texts, including oral (proverbs and folktales), performative (songs and films), and the familiar written texts (books, novels), through which masculinity is negotiated and produced across the continent. A good contribution to feminist, men’s, and cultural studies that is suitable for graduate or advanced undergraduate level.

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              • Sudarkasa, Niara. 1986. “The status of women” in indigenous African societies. Feminist Studies 12.1: 91–103.

                DOI: 10.2307/3177985Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                This article addresses methodological issues in the study of the status of women in indigenous African societies, showing the changes brought about by colonialism and capitalism that created the unequal relationships between the sexes. Scholars would be better served to focus on the modern era to inquire about the unequal status between men and women. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                Pedagogical Sources

                This section presents works on pedagogical issues related to the teaching of and about Africa, including Alden, et al. 1994 and Bastian and Parpart 1999.

                • Alden, Patricia, David Lloyd, and Ahmed I. Samatar, eds. 1994. African studies and the undergraduate curriculum. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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                  African studies provides students a rare opportunity to directly engage with the processes and impacts of globalization. The book examines the relationship between African studies and the undergraduate curriculum, reviews developments in various disciplines within African studies, provides models for study-abroad programs and strategies for developing African-content courses, and assesses the future of African studies.

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                  • Bastian, Misty L., and Jane L. Parpart, eds. 1999. Great ideas for teaching about Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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                    A collection of exercises, narratives, and reflections on how university instructors bring African issues into their classrooms in ways that engage students while reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of African studies, through African cinema, art, literature, music, and documentary sources. The book is directed at undergraduate curricula but can be used in workshops and short courses on Africa and global change.

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                    Reference Works and Encyclopedias

                    This section presents reference works and encyclopedias, including Appiah and Gates 2005, Brockman 2006, Irele and Jeyifo 2010, Mendonsa 2002, Middleton 1997, Mitchell 2003, and Ramsamy 2012, which provide basic information on notable individuals in Africa and the diaspora, present statistical data, and discuss the history and culture of Africa. An annotated and select bibliography on Ali Mazrui’s work, Bemath 2005, is also included in recognition of his contribution to the scholarship on Africa in a wide range of topics. See also Diagram Group 2000.

                    • Appiah, Kwame Anthony, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., eds. 2005 Africana: The encyclopedia of the African and African American experience. 2d ed. 5 vols. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                      Contains 4,500 entries on Africa and the African diaspora, with historical and current subjects such as the transatlantic slave trade, African oral literature, music, AIDS, religion, ethnic groups, politics and government, places, events, notable persons, and country overviews. A comprehensive resource for high school and college, with a chronology, a topic index, and subject bibliographies that make searching for information manageable. Originally published in 1999.

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                      • Bemath, Abdul Samed, comp. 2005. The Mazruiana collection revisited: Ali A. Mazrui debating the African condition; An annotated and select thematic bibliography, 1962–2003. Rev. ed. Pretoria, South Africa: Africa Institute of South Africa.

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                        This collection covers Ali Mazrui’s work spanning forty years and has six hundred annotated entries on books, journal articles, audiovisual recordings, and other analytical works on his major contributions. A subject and author index makes this an accessible resource for students and researchers and for those looking to get a different perspective on issues related to Africa.

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                        • Brockman, Norbert C. 2006. An African biographical dictionary. 2d ed. Millerton, NY: Grey House.

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                          This collection covers 713 biographical sketches of some key historical and modern individuals from a variety of fields. Each entry has name, country or countries where the person was significant, and dates of birth and death. This is a good introductory reference guide to students new to the subject area of African societies.

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                          • Diagram Group. 2000. Encyclopedia of African peoples. London: Fitzroy Dearborn.

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                            This reference divides Africa into five geographic regions (north, east, west, central, and south) and examines ethnic groups, language, religion, cross-cutting historical and cultural factors, and modern economic and social status of each country. Also includes biographies of more than three hundred Africans. Information is presented in a very accessible manner for an introductory student on Africa, as well as for general readers.

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                            • Irele, F. Abiola, and Biodum Jeyifo, eds. 2010. The Oxford encyclopedia of African thought. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                              A collaborative interdisciplinary work of university scholars from Africa and the United States that analyzes African intellectual traditions stemming from sociocultural and political consequences of the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism, as well as contemporaneous views on human rights, governance, and social movements. The 360 entries are written in a way that makes them accessible to the general reader, without compromising rigor.

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                              • Mendonsa, Eugene L. 2002. West Africa: An introduction to its history, civilization and contemporary situation. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic.

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                                This extensive look at West Africa utilizes a political-economy perspective to cover various pertinent topics to the region. A good resource for undergraduates (each chapter contains visuals and critical questions, and the book has further references), researchers, and general readers. It is to be used as a starting point and should be complemented by other sources.

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                                • Middleton, John, ed. 1997. Encyclopedia of Africa south of the Sahara. Vol. 1, Abeokuta–ecosystems. New York: Charles Scribner’s.

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                                  This volume argues that Africa is a continent occupied by distinct and complex societies, each of which is constrained by its geographical conditions and has a unique history. The volume covers issues on “Africa in Perspective,” “Inventions and Images on Africa,” “The Study of Africa: Genesis, Substance and Cultural,” and “Boundaries.”

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                                  • Mitchell, B. R. 2003. International historical statistics: Africa, Asia and Oceania, 1750–1988. 4th ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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                                    An overview source that presents statistics on economic history (growth and development) compiled by various national data sources in comparable form. A good source of historical, political, and current data on demography, labor force participation, agriculture, industrial activities, external trade, transport and communication, education, consumer price indices, and national accounts.

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                                    • Ramsamy, Edward, ed. 2012. Cultural sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa: An encyclopedia. Vol. 2, Africa. SAGE Reference. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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                                      Volume 2 in this four-volume set focuses on Africa and analyzes the history and cultures of Africa, highlighting sociocultural, political, and economic developments across the continent. Has three sections: prehistory to 1400, 1400–1900, and 1900 to the present. It also highlights Africa’s cultural vibrancy in music, literature, film, and other forms of cultural expression.

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                                      Journals

                                      Another professional resource for Africanist scholars are journals on general sociology and comparative international sociology that feature articles on African societies. The list provided here represents a sample of journals that are specifically dedicated to research, theory, best practices, and dialogue on African societies, including Africa Journal, African Studies Review, Africa Today, and the Journal of Modern African Studies.

                                      • Africa Journal.

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                                        First published in 2008, this quarterly, peer-reviewed journal of the International African Institute, by Cambridge University Press, attempts to draw attention to African knowledge production through its “African local intellectuals” strand, where oral, manuscript, and printed works by authors outside the literary and academic mainstream are introduced and analyzed to identify emerging social and cultural trends, experiences, and commentaries.

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                                        • Africa Today.

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                                          First published in 1954, Africa Today is a leading journal that covers global scholarship on political, economic, and social issues on and related to Africa. The journal is published quarterly, since the year 2000 by Indiana University Press.

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                                          • African Studies Review.

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                                            First published in 1957, African Studies Review is the main academic journal of the African Studies Association, publishing scholarly articles and book and film reviews that reflect the interdisciplinary nature of its membership. Issues are published three times a year.

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                                            • Journal of Modern African Studies.

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                                              Established in 1963, the journal provides a quarterly overview of developments in modern African politics, economics, societies, and international relations. It is directed at students, academic specialists, and practitioners within and outside Africa. The journal is avowedly apolitical and undertakes an all-round examination of controversial issues so as to promote a clearer understanding of current events in Africa.

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                                              Data Sets

                                              There are many African studies centers that can be accessed through the African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania. In addition, the African Studies Association is one the largest professional associations that provide a meeting ground for Africanist scholars globally. See also African Online Digital Library; California Newsreel; Internet African History Sourcebook; Stanford University’s Africa South of the Sahara; and Lewis, et al. 2013.

                                              • Africa South of the Sahara.

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                                                This Stanford University Library portal on Africa south of the Sahara is a good starting point for research; it has an option to search by topic or country. An A–Z list of journals, magazines, and newsletters is alphabetically listed with information on the publication’s history, location, publisher, editors, and number of issues per year, as well as a hyperlink to the source.

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                                                • African Online Digital Library.

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                                                  This is a portal to multimedia collections about Africa; Michigan State University is collaborating with universities and cultural heritage organizations in Africa to build a resource gateway. The collection is still evolving but already has material covering a wide range of topics, including religion, democracy, history, activists’ videos, e-journals, oral narratives, curricula on exploring Africa, and country-specific material.

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                                                  • African Studies Association.

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                                                    Established in 1957, the African Studies Association is based in the United States and is one of the largest global membership organizations, with annual meetings drawing up to 2,000 participants. It is devoted to enhancing exchange of information on Africa’s past and present in the political, economic, social, cultural, artistic, scientific, and environmental fields.

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                                                    • African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania.

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                                                      This portal contains links to more than thirty of the major African studies centers in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Good resource for undergraduate and graduate students, academics, teachers, and those desiring to learn more about the various programs available on African studies. The center also has a portal on African studies and organization, again with links to more than thirty such associations and organizations.

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                                                      • California Newsreel.

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                                                        A portal for films from Africa made by Africans from all regions of the continent, covering a broad range of historical, political, and current sociocultural and economic issues; with an agenda of social awareness and change. Has a hyperlink to articles written by African filmmakers and scholars that provide guidance to educators on how to view and teach African cinema.

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                                                        • Internet African History Sourcebook.

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                                                          Hosted by Fordham University in New York, this portal provides links to original historical sources on African societies. Topics covered include general African history, origins and ancient African societies, Greek and Roman Africa, Africa and Islam, Ethiopia and Christianity, slavery, European imperialism, the fight for independence, and modern Africa. Each subtopic is hyperlinked to original articles and other related materials.

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                                                          • Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig, eds. 2013. Ethnologue: Languages of the world. 17th ed. Dallas: SIL International.

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                                                            In its seventeenth edition, this website provides a continuously updated and interactive report on the state of languages in each African country. Countries are arranged by region: eastern, middle, western, northern, and southern.

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                                                            Economic Development

                                                            Views on economic development and the role of the state in the development process in African societies have changed over time. The late 1950s and most of the 1960s were all about independence and nation building, but by the 1970s, scholars and other observers were beginning to formulate views on the postcolonial developmental state in Africa. From the late 1960s through the 1970s, most explanations largely reflected political-sociology views on power relationships, as seen in the role of foreign capital in facilitating or undermining development. The 1980s were mostly about civil society, in which the state was viewed as weak while the society was strong. Most of the African countries experienced democratization movements and transitions in the 1990s, with mixed results, as some of the sources indicate. This and the next two sections are thus to be viewed as interrelated and part of a continuum on social and economic development in African societies. On economic development, Davidson 1971 and Davidson 1974 represent the voice of those who asked if Africa could survive and what strategy would be suitable, by examining some leading African ideas on political and economic development. On the other hand, Berg 1981 and Lofchie 1989 attribute Africa’s lack of development to domestic policy problems. However, Bujra 2004 argues that Africa’s response to the Berg report and structural adjustment programs was the Lagos Plan of Action, which was aimed at halting Africa’s marginalization in the global process. This view is echoed in Lewis 1996 and Nega and Schneider 2011, which argue for a more nuanced understanding and policy options that will transform Africa’s political economies in the long term rather than relying on the economic and governance conditionalities imposed by international financial institutions that have not worked in African countries. Cheru and Obi 2010 brings up yet another issue in Africa’s development process: the increasing role of China and India in the scramble for Africa’s natural resources and markets and its implications in the shifting global political dynamics.

                                                            • Berg, Elliot J. 1981. Accelerated development in sub-Saharan Africa: An agenda for action. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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                                                              Sponsored by the World Bank, the study sought to examine factors for Africa’s economic underperformance in the 1970s and to prescribe strategies to attain development. The report identified domestic policy problems as key factors in Africa’s lack of development and recommended governance and market reforms that resulted in conditional aid packages known as structural adjustment programs (SAPs).

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                                                              • Bujra, Abdalla. 2004. Pan-African political and economic visions of development from the OAU to the AU: From the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) to the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). DPMF Occasional Paper 13. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Development Policy Management Forum.

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                                                                Bujra evaluates various visions on Africa’s development, including the Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa, 1980–2000, by the Organization of African Unity (Geneva, Switzerland: International Institute for Labour Studies, 1982), which is a strategy for collective self-reliance and economic cooperation. This is an important document that shows African governments taking the reins and agreeing to promote accelerated development, to eradicate poverty and to halt the marginalization of Africa in the global process.

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                                                                • Cheru, Fantu, and Cyril Obi, eds. 2010. The rise of China and India in Africa: Challenges, opportunities and critical interventions. Africa Now. London: Zed Books.

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                                                                  Book succeeds in utilizing multiple perspectives to highlight how Africa has become a political battleground between Western industrialized countries and the rising Asian countries. However, it is Africans themselves who must determine how they are treated and whether they steer the new relationship to their advantage or if this ends up being yet another case of neocolonialism.

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                                                                  • Davidson, Basil. 1971. Which way Africa? The search for a new society. 3d ed. Penguin African Library. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

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                                                                    This book presents a debate on the present, the future, and ways of reaching a different kind of life for Africa, concluding that early approaches to rebuilding used Pan-Africanism as a springboard to develop early strategies that centered on the one-party state and African nationalism, and that the challenges for the 1970s related to neocolonialism.

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                                                                    • Davidson, Basil. 1974. Can Africa survive? Arguments against growth without development. Atlantic Monthly Press Book. Boston: Little, Brown.

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                                                                      A text that utilizes a historical approach to the study of Africa south of the Sahara, by questioning the general perception that Africa’s lack of development implies that its socioeconomic system is not capable of development. While acknowledging Africa’s local challenges, the author argues that the contrary interests of the international community are just as culpable in Africa’s failure.

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                                                                      • Lewis, Peter M. 1996. Economic reform and political transition in Africa: The quest for a politics of development. World Politics 49.1: 92–129.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/wp.1996.0021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        This article reviews books that analyze the implications of Africa’s political and economic change and the dual crises of economic and political transition. Provides an important overview on our understanding of regional change and argues for more research on groups, motives, resources, and organizations that might transform Africa’s political economies in the long term. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                        • Lofchie, Michael F. 1989. The policy factor: Agricultural performance in Kenya and Tanzania. Food in Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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                                                                          This book uses Africa’s agricultural crisis as a premise for discussing development policies and theories. This is a good source for getting perspectives on the role of the state in the development process, and on externalist (e.g., dependency, declining terms of trade, and policies of international donors) and internalist (e.g., urban bias through price regulation, currency overvaluation, and import substitution) explanations of development.

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                                                                          • Nega, Berhanu, and Geoffrey Schneider. 2011. International financial institutions and democracy in Africa: The case for political conditionality and economic unconditionality. Journal of Economic Issues 45.2: 421–430.

                                                                            DOI: 10.2753/JEI0021-3624450219Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            This article argues that economic and governance conditionalities imposed by international financial institutions (IFIs) on African countries have not worked. It therefore proposes a new policy approach that emphasizes democracy, accountability, and economic flexibility as crucial ingredients to create the conditions for progressive institutional change in Africa. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                            Democratic Governance and Politics

                                                                            A wave of democratic governance and political change swept through African countries beginning in the late 1980s, which brought to prominence the role of civil society in mobilizing the population, resisting the state, and advocating, promoting, and protecting people’s rights. Berman 1998 shows that the new-wave democratization has transcended ethnic lines that were socially constructed during colonial rule. Bretton 1973 (a comparative analysis) and Haugerud 1993, together with Potholm 1988 and Schatzberg 2001, demonstrate that scholarship on the nature of African societies has illuminated the uniqueness of its institutions, especially when understood within a political-economy perspective, as shown in Matlosa 2003. On the question of whether the 1990s were indicative of a genuine new beginning or a continuation of a series of false starts that have plagued the continent, Joseph 1999 concludes that there have been different processes and manifestations of democratic outcomes. Mbaku and Ihonvbere 2003 further shows that the ongoing challenges have the potential to undermine the strides made.

                                                                            • Berman, Bruce J. 1998. Ethnicity, patronage and the African state: The politics of uncivil nationalism. African Affairs 97.388: 305–341.

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                                                                              This article succeeds in fleshing out ethnicity as a social construct borne by European assumptions of homogenous “tribes” and a bureaucratic obsession with demarcating, classifying, and counting subject populations, which was compounded by anthropologists and missionaries as well as local elites who utilized ethnicity as a basis for creating a type of modernization that preserved the status quo. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                              • Bretton, Henry L. 1973. Power and politics in Africa. Chicago: Aldine.

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                                                                                This interdisciplinary comparative analysis examines social, economic, and political challenges in Africa. The book’s strength is in its analysis of data from African economic and development surveys and reports, budget estimates, UN surveys and commissioned papers, country and international organization statistics, census reports, and reviews of countries, reflecting the continent’s diversity of government structure, religion, culture, and ethnicity.

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                                                                                • Haugerud, Angelique. 1993. The culture of politics in modern Kenya. African Studies 84. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                  This book shows that Kenya’s experiences capture the essence of the democratization narrative in many African countries. Donors’ pressure for multiparty democracy and pressure from structural adjustment programs that led to reduced subsidies and paychecks were critical external factors. Internal factors range from ethnic conflict, unequal distribution of resources, and government-inspired violence, to the emergence of alternative spaces for dissent.

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                                                                                  • Joseph, Richard, ed. 1999. State, conflict, and democracy in Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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                                                                                    This book shows that the democratization process that began in the late 1980s has been contradictory, ranging from the aborted process in Nigeria and the denatured process in Cameroon and Zaire to the transformative one in South Africa. Being subjected to international election observation has not implied full democratization, since some semidemocracies that deflect international pressure have evolved.

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                                                                                    • Matlosa, Khabele. 2003. Political culture and democratic governance in southern Africa. African Journal of Political Science 8.1: 85–112.

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                                                                                      This article argues that southern Africa’s political violence and instability must be understood in terms of the region’s political economy, in which resource distribution, ideological contestation, and social differences along class, gender, ethnic, and racial lines are important factors.

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                                                                                      • Mbaku, John Mukum, and Julius Omozuanvbo Ihonvbere, eds. 2003. The transition to democratic governance in Africa: The continuing struggle. Westport, CT: Praeger.

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                                                                                        This book has contributions from some prolific scholars on African studies, contains a comprehensive bibliography, and is an all-round resource for scholars, students, researchers, and policymakers. It analyzes political/governance systems in Africa, the democratization process, and economic conditions and how efforts at regional integration are undermined by regional conflicts and the educated elites who appropriate state structures.

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                                                                                        • Potholm, Christian P. 1988. The theory and practice of African politics. 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America.

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                                                                                          This book demonstrates that diverse indigenous African political systems suitable to its societies and ecology existed prior to Arab and European contact. As a result, those who have failed to recognize the importance of these systems within the “modern” African government systems have had to pay dearly by losing their positions. Originally published in 1979 (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall).

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                                                                                          • Schatzberg, Michael G. 2001. Political legitimacy in middle Africa: Father, family, food. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

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                                                                                            Schatzberg presents a familial view to comprehending Africa’s cultural logic of legitimacy, by equating the state’s relationship with its people to that of a father and his children, and the commonly derived understanding of rights and responsibilities thereof. These commonly understood paternalistic and familial metaphors are manipulated within the African state, where they strike a resonant and deeply embedded chord.

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                                                                                            Civil Society, State, Democracy, and Social Justice Movements

                                                                                            The selections in this section demonstrate the two-way link between poor governance and economic decline in Africa and how civil society has stepped in to fill the gap. Bratton 1989 shows that civil society has become assertive in the face of state retreat. Cheru 1989, Monga 1996, and Hassim 2006 assert that it is people at the grassroots level who are determined to engage in the political arena in order to bring about change, a view echoed in Harbeson, et al. 1994, which argues that civil society has become a critical factor in the attainment and sustenance of political reform and governance. However, Lewis 1992 and Tripp 2000 show that the nature of state-society relations forms a weak basis for the emergence of a vibrant civil society. Ndegwa 1996 illustrates this view by showing that leadership at the helm of individual organizations is important in the democratization process. It is in this vein that Orvis 2001 calls for examining what constitutes African civil society, the genesis and organizational nature of these movements, and the extent to which they are internally democratic.

                                                                                            • Bratton, Michael. 1989. Beyond the state: Civil society and associational life in Africa. World Politics 41.3: 407–430.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/2010506Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Bratton’s analysis shows the genesis of state withdrawal and the rise of civil society and sets the stage for further research on the nature and variation of civil society, factors that contribute to success or failure of civil society, and whether the expansion of civil society contributes to political development and promotes democracy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                              • Cheru, Fantu. 1989. The silent revolution in Africa: Debt, development, and democracy. London: Zed Books.

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                                                                                                Cheru argues that meaningful development can happen only if democratization changes the structural power relationship and gives the grassroots control. As an indication of the failure of formal institutions, the grassroots have been squeezed out from formal lines of economic opportunities into the informal sector, where they are conducting a silent revolution against formal policies and structures of power.

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                                                                                                • Harbeson, John W., Donald Rothchild, and Naomi Chazan, eds. 1994. Civil society and the state in Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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                                                                                                  Utilizing case studies and contemporaneous theory to analyze Africa’s political and socioeconomic realities, this book is based on the premise that civil societies have been the missing link to sustained political reform, legitimate states and governments, improved governance, viable state-society and state-economy relationships, and the prevention of the kind of political decay that undermined African governments a generation ago.

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                                                                                                  • Hassim, Shireen. 2006. Women’s organizations and democracy in South Africa: Contesting authority. Women in Africa and the Diaspora. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

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                                                                                                    Hassim examines social movements and gender through the intersection of feminism, nationalism, and democratic transformation in South Africa, where movements for social, economic, and political justice overthrew the apartheid regime. The women’s movement participated and articulated gender oppression. Hassim provides a historical overview of the women’s movement and the political and ideological resources they utilized to transcend the constraints.

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                                                                                                    • Lewis, Peter M. 1992. Political transition and the dilemma of civil society in Africa. Journal of International Affairs 46.1: 31–54.

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                                                                                                      Lewis contends that although a diverse associational life for meeting social and economic needs has historically thrived in sub-Saharan Africa, the advent of democratization raises the question of whether these associations can serve the democratic agenda. Moreover, many civil-society institutions are quiescent and fragmented, such that the entrenchment of democratization would require fundamental changes in the operation of associational life.

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                                                                                                      • Monga, Célestin. 1996. The anthropology of anger: Civil society and democracy in Africa. Translated by Linda L. Fleck & Célestin Monga. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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                                                                                                        Monga uses anger as a metaphor for the driving force behind the grassroots determination to engage in the political arena in order to bring about change, which is a continuation of the practice of collective insubordination to bring about change. He advocates a new definition of democracy that reflects the values of those experiencing it.

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                                                                                                        • Ndegwa, Stephen N. 1996. The two faces of civil society: NGOs and politics in Africa. Kumarian Press Books on International Development. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian.

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                                                                                                          Ndegwa acknowledges that although nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are critical in facilitating local communities’ engagement in the political process and democratization, his case study of two organizations operating under similar circumstances, in which one plays an activist democratization role while the other is politically inactive, shows that leadership at the helm of individual organizations is just as important in the democratization process.

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                                                                                                          • Orvis, Stephen. 2001. Civil society in Africa or African civil society? Journal of Asian and African Studies 36.1: 17–38.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/002190960103600102Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Orvis posits that although civil society provides an independent public platform for collective political activity and has the potential to create accountability and check the reach of the state, these groups tend to be internally less democratic, such that there is a need to broaden the definition of and what constitutes African civil society. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                            • Tripp, Aili Mari. 2000. Women and politics in Uganda. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

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                                                                                                              According to Tripp, a major problem facing African political movements is a deficit of autonomy (the inability to make decisions independent of external influences such as state and donors). The Ugandan women’s movement’s relative autonomy catapulted it into a national political force, showing that societal actors can maintain their autonomy through how they select their agenda, leaders, and mobilization strategies.

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                                                                                                              Religion and Philosophy

                                                                                                              African religion is rich and diverse and is tied to philosophy through the articulation of Ubuntu worldview, which captures the connectedness of individuals within a community. First articulated in Mbiti 1990, this idea has gained resonance among Africans and Africanists and is as useful today as it was in the past (Mnyaka and Motlhabi 2005, Tambulasi and Kayuni 2005, Clark 2000). Hence, Murithi 2009 notes of Desmond Tutu’s utilization of the concept during his tenure at South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to bring about healing and reconciliation. Wangila 2010 brings out an important issue regarding globalization of human rights and how their emphasis on the individual should also incorporate communal aspects. Blakely, et al. 1994 concludes that religion is a social construct that is constituted by culture and that Africa’s pluralistic and action-oriented transformations in its religion are indicative of the continent’s historical, cultural, and political experience.

                                                                                                              • Blakely, Thomas D., Walter E. A. van Beek, and Dennis L. Thomson, eds. 1994. Religion in Africa: Experience and expression. Monograph Series of the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young Univ. 4. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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                                                                                                                This book looks at religion as a social construct that is mediated by culture. The variability and flexibility of African religion enable it to operate at any social or geographical level, which has resulted in pluralistic and action-oriented transformations that are indicative of the continent’s historical, cultural, and political experiences.

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                                                                                                                • Clark, Leon E. 2000. Through African eyes. Vol. 2, Culture and society, continuity and change. CITE World Cultures. New York and London: CITE.

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                                                                                                                  This book uses memoirs, autobiographies, poetry, short stories, sociological studies, newspaper accounts, magazine articles, and letters to address various topics, making the information accessible and suitable for undergraduate introductory courses to African societies. Its major underlying theme is that of identity, as mediated by Africa’s Ubuntu worldview and the balancing act between the communal/ group dynamic and the individual.

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                                                                                                                  • Mbiti, John S. 1990. African religions and philosophy. 2d ed. Oxford: Heinemann International.

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                                                                                                                    A college-level introduction to African religions and philosophy that focuses on traditional concepts and practices before the colonial period, although it touches on human aspects of change in modern times. The author articulates the relationship between religion and Africans through the Ubuntu concept, which implies it is only through group membership that one is aware of one’s existence.

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                                                                                                                    • Mnyaka, Mluleki, and Mokgethi Motlhabi. 2005. The African concept of Ubuntu/Botho and its socio-moral significance. Black Theology: An International Journal 3.2: 215–237.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1558/blth.3.2.215.65725Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      The African Ubuntu worldview, which signifies mutuality and makes an African a communal being, is inculcated through socialization that ensures that individuals think of themselves as inextricably linked to others, out of which identity and security are borne and obligations of forgiveness, love, and hospitality arise. Authors lament the erosion of this philosophy by colonization, apartheid/racism, urbanization, and social change. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                      • Murithi, Tim. 2009. An African perspective on peace: Ubuntu lessons in reconciliation. International Review of Education 55.2–3: 221–233.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s11159-009-9129-0Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        This article argues that Desmond Tutu, during his tenure as leader of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, utilized the Ubuntu strategy as a means to bring about reconciliation after the traumatic experience of apartheid. The author uses the case to advocate educating for peace, especially in an increasingly militarized world where values of nonviolence and problem solving are urgently needed. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                        • Tambulasi, Richard, and Happy Kayuni. 2005. Can African feet divorce Western shoes? The case of “Ubuntu” and democratic good governance in Malawi. Nordic Journal of African Studies 14.2: 147–161.

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                                                                                                                          This paper posits that the African Ubuntu worldview and principles of democratic good governance are compatible and complementary. Using Malawi as a case study, the paper recommends prudent use of Ubuntu by leaders, so that its meaning is not distorted and principles of democratic governance are harmoniously incorporated with the African worldview.

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                                                                                                                          • Wangila, Mary Nyangweso. 2010. Religion, the African concept of the individual, and human rights discourse: An analysis. Journal of Human Rights 9.3: 326–343.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/14754835.2010.501265Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            With globalization, a global ethic—through which norms based on common humanity have become centralized—has, in the process, played down basic cultural differences. This paper argues that while values central to human rights and social justice should define the individual on the basis of the common good (moral universalism), they should also simultaneously acknowledge cultural and communal differences (cultural relativism). Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                            Literary Writers

                                                                                                                            The annotated works outlined in this section show that literature plays a critical function in African societies; these works serve to articulate matters of identity, colonialism, cultural conflict, gender relations, family, and social change. They demonstrate the often-contradictory expectations as people cling to traditional values while operating under changing circumstances, as seen in Achebe 2011 and Emecheta 1979. Laye 1954, an autobiography, and the author’s subsequent departure for France highlight the dilemma faced by parents as they desire to prepare their children for a modern world, something that often implies literal and symbolic uprooting from a familiar culture. This same theme is explored further in Dangarembga 2004, in which the author highlights race, gender, social change, and colonialism as well as issues of generational and cultural gap between parents and their children, due to new influences and exposure. Bâ 1989 and p’Bitek 1984 address the inevitable changes in family and marriage relationships and how they are mediated by the sociohistorical and cultural context and the people involved. Thiong’o 2010 (originally published in 1965) captures the symbolic and literal separation African communities experienced as a result of colonialism and the pull and shift between maintaining traditional religious beliefs and adopting new religious practices. Every African generation has directly or indirectly experienced impacts of state injustice that is visited on entire communities, as is captured in Paton 1948, as the author looks at social-justice issues in South Africa, and in Larson 1997, which shows the threat African writers are exposed to by their governments; yet, they demonstrate resilience as they struggle to make a life for themselves and their families. Mahfouz 2011 humanizes the impact of georegional and national politics as well as the economy at the macro level, through family relations and marriage aspirations. It is in this vein that Adichie 2011 explores the political and cultural crises in post-independence Nigeria, especially the impact of war on the psyche of ordinary people as they attempt to undertake their everyday tasks of survival against the odds.

                                                                                                                            • Achebe, Chinua. 2011. Things fall apart. Always Learning. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education.

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                                                                                                                              This classic, originally published in 1958 (London: Heinemann), which inaugurated the African novelist tradition, portrays events surrounding the arrival of the British into an Igbo village and the changes that ensue. Okonkwo, an influential and successful character by traditional standards, has to deal with the inevitable clash of cultures as well as the conflict between him and his society, from which he falls out of grace.

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                                                                                                                              • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. 2011. Half of a yellow sun. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

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                                                                                                                                This novel, originally published in 2006, presents intricacies of daily life before and after the Biafran civil war—Africa’s first postcolonial conflict, which set the stage on how African conflicts are handled by Western countries and others. This gripping historical novel is an important text that humanizes the impact of war outside of statistics, breaking news, and sound bites.

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                                                                                                                                • Bâ, Mariama. 1989. So long a letter. Translated by Modupé Bodé-Thomas. African Writers 248. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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                                                                                                                                  This letter, from a recently widowed woman to her friend, recounts her late husband’s decision to marry a new wife, and the hardships her family endured as a result. She experiences an awakening, rejects several suitors, and maps out a new life for her family. The novel highlights friendship, colonization, independence, gender oppressions, and the different interests within a marriage.

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                                                                                                                                  • Dangarembga, Tsitsi. 2004. Nervous conditions. New York: Seal.

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                                                                                                                                    This feminist take on change is set in Zimbabwe in the 1960s and 1970s. The story is narrated by a young woman who, by introducing the various characters, exposes the reader to issues of gender inequality, tradition, progress, rural and urban location, the impact of colonialism, colonial and gender emancipation, and the double consciousness of the characters. Originally published in 1988.

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                                                                                                                                    • Emecheta, Buchi. 1979. The joys of motherhood. New York: George Braziller.

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                                                                                                                                      Emecheta shows discrepancies between traditional and modern gender role expectations, whereby the new economic system promotes individualism at the expense of familial obligations that awarded women security and status on the basis of motherhood. Although Nnu Ego struggles to provide for her children as a form of security in her old age, she ends up dying alone along a roadside. Reprinted as recently as 2013.

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                                                                                                                                      • Larson, Charles R., ed. 1997. Under African skies: Modern African stories. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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                                                                                                                                        This collection of stories and a narrative poem by Africa’s most important authors from sixteen countries are about ordinary people striving to survive in the midst of political, cultural, and spiritual struggles. This is recommended as an introductory text to the breadth of the situation in African countries, presented by African writers who refuse to be silenced by their governments.

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                                                                                                                                        • Laye, Camara. 1954. The dark child: The autobiography of an African boy. Translated by James Kirkup and Ernest Jones. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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                                                                                                                                          This is about growing up, tradition, and change, as the author narrates his childhood, education, and eventual departure for France from Guinea. The autobiography resonates particularly well with many Africans who send their children away for an education in boarding schools or to stay with relatives in urban areas, in the hopes of investing for a better future. Republished as recently as 1994.

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                                                                                                                                          • Mahfouz, Naguib. 2011. The day the leader was killed. Translated by Malak Hashem, Christina Phillips, and Raymond Stock. Cairo, Egypt: American Univ. in Cairo Press.

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                                                                                                                                            A novel that captures the impact of history, economics, politics, and change on the lives of young lovers who are unable to marry because the young man is unable to support a family, despite his university education. Good novel for introducing students and general readers to life in the Maghreb region of Africa, where politics and personal lives are intertwined.

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                                                                                                                                            • Paton, Alan. 1948. Cry, the beloved country: A story of comfort in desolation. New York: Charles Scribner’s.

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                                                                                                                                              A novel about social-justice issues in South Africa that became a bestseller and a classic; highlights the challenges brought on by exploitation, deprivation, brutality, land issues, violence, and the suffering that became the backbone of the apartheid system.

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                                                                                                                                              • p’Bitek, Okot. 1984. Song of Lawino & Song of Ocol. African Writers 266. Oxford: Heinemann.

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                                                                                                                                                Although Song of Lawino is about the disintegrating marriage between a woman steeped in tradition and her husband, who has embraced Western culture, it is about what type of society Africa should become. Song of Ocol is the husband’s response, in which he despises everything associated with tradition. The two poems capture Africa’s unresolved tension between tradition and modernity.

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                                                                                                                                                • Thiong’o, Ngugi wa. 2010. The river between. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Educational.

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                                                                                                                                                  This novel, originally published in 1965 (London: Heinemann), is about how social order is to be maintained despite being challenged by British imperialism and Christianity. A river between the two villages signifies the literal and symbolic separation, whereas other conflicts within and between the two villages signify other tensions: youth vs. elders; traditional customs vs. Western education; individual desires vs. community expectations; leadership, land, and gender.

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                                                                                                                                                  Film, Music, and Leisure

                                                                                                                                                  African art, dance, music, and film have attained international acclaim, with Ousmane Sembene as unquestionably “the father African cinema,” whose 1968 film (Mandabi /Le Mandat /The Money Order) was the first African film made in an African language (Thomas 2008). The African art, music, and film scene has since become vibrant, with an increasingly global following—this creative scene (filmmaking, music, and literature) has brought together artists, scholars, and audiences within the continent and abroad. Zeleza and Veney 2003 shows the variety of leisure and cultural activities that Africans engage in, especially in cities, as the authors argue for the importance of studying this subfield within African studies. See also Omoera 2009 and Stone 2008.

                                                                                                                                                  • Omoera, Osakue Stevenson. 2009. Video film and African social reality: A consideration of Nigeria-Ghana block of West Africa. Journal of Human Ecology 25.3: 193–199.

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                                                                                                                                                    A succinct overview of the emergence, growth, and popularity of the video film industry in Nigeria, also called “Nollywood” or “Naijawood” in the Nigerian media culture. Its mass appeal among African audiences is based on the familiarity of themes covered, which they can readily identify with. An accessible overview that is suitable for undergraduate introductory courses on modern African societies.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Stone, Ruth M., ed. 2008. The Garland handbook of African music. 2d ed. New York and London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                      A thematically arranged collection of articles by Africanist ethnomusicology scholars: Part 1 covers the people, languages, politics, economy, and religious practices. Part 2 addresses the interconnectedness of African music, while Part 3 has case studies from western, northern, eastern, central, and southern Africa. Appropriate for graduate and undergraduate level, and for others interested in African music.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Thomas, Dominic. 2008. Ousmane Sembene’s footprint in context. International Journal of Francophone Studies 11.4: 657–660.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1386/ijfs.11.4.657_7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        A brief overview of the “father of African film” that juxtaposes Sembene’s films with historical chronology of 20th-century African colonial and postcolonial politics and social issues related to urban youth, poverty, unemployment, gender, generational tensions, and power relations. An up-to-the-point biographical overview of one of Africa’s most prolific and influential artists, with a global renown. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe, and Cassandra Rachel Veney, eds. 2003. Leisure in urban Africa. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

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                                                                                                                                                          This interdisciplinary text uses leisure studies to explore Africa’s daily life as a metaphor of broader social processes. This important contribution to the field of African cultural studies conducts a theoretical and bibliographic overview of leisure in Africa, examining leisure in colonial and modern Africa as well as the role of the African diaspora in mediating cultural flows between Africa and the West.

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                                                                                                                                                          Gender and Status of Women

                                                                                                                                                          This is one of the most researched, written-about, and interdisciplinary areas on African societies. As the materials in this section show, there is not a single way to describe gender in Africa: each specific situation and the players involved will produce different outcomes. While Africa’s general socioeconomic, cultural, and political conditions and the continent’s global standing have specific impacts on women, Hay and Stichter 1995, Davison 1997, Boddy 1989, Clark 1994, and Tamale 2000 present cases of agency, resilience, and resistance through existing structures. Some of the collections have brought together previous and new writings on gender (Cornwall 2005, Oyĕwùmí 2005). Stamp 1991 shows the complexities of the intertwined issues of gender, politics, and ethnicity, while Cole, et al. 2007 brings up current issues about gender, thereby setting a research agenda for the coming years.

                                                                                                                                                          • Boddy, Janice. 1989. Wombs and alien spirits: Women, men and the Zār cult in northern Sudan. New Directions in Anthropological Writing. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

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                                                                                                                                                            Appropriate for advanced undergraduate and graduate women’s studies, this book, on an Arabic-speaking, Muslim Sudanese village where strict gender roles are observed, attempts to ascribe meaning to women’s subordinate position. Just like a womb, the women are important to their culture, yet their lives are constricted except through spirit possession, which enables them to question gender relations.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Clark, Gracia. 1994. Onions are my husband: Survival and accumulation by West African market women. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226107769.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              This book, which should be considered a classic in the study of African markets, is based on an ethnographic study of female market traders in Kumasi, Ghana. The book shows the struggles within the market place, and the linkage to regional, national, and international trade. These women have become the center of transformation of gender relations.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Cole, Catherine M., Takyiwaa Manuh, and Stephan F. Miescher, eds. 2007. Africa after gender? Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                Gender is one of the most prolific areas in African scholarship, as well as among policymakers, the general populace, nongovernmental organizations, and donors. This book attempts to address the conundrum of north-south unequal exchange of ideas, and it covers these themes: volatile genders and new African women; activism and public space; gender enactments and gendered perceptions; and masculinity, misogyny, and seniority.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Cornwall, Andrea, ed. 2005. Readings in gender in Africa. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                  This is a useful general introduction to the scholarship on gender in Africa because it covers early feminist writings as well as new and unpublished work that reflects the diversity of gender issues in sub-Saharan Africa. This interdisciplinary collection spans interests of feminist activists, practitioners, academics, and students.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Davison, Jean. 1997. Gender, lineage, and ethnicity in southern Africa. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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                                                                                                                                                                    This book focuses on the Zambezi River region of southern Africa, as the author examines the interlocking relationship among women, gender, lineage, and ethnicity from precolonial times to the present, in a region where patrilineal and matrilineal systems coexist. This book is suitable for advanced-level undergraduates, graduate students, interdisciplinary scholars on Africa, and policy practitioners.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Hay, Margaret Jean, and Sharon Stichter, eds. 1995. African women south of the Sahara. 2d ed. New York: Longman.

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                                                                                                                                                                      This book provides a general overview of women in sub-Saharan Africa and is accessible to undergraduates and general audiences. It provides a historical and modern general survey of the economic, social, cultural, and political role of women in Africa. It presents African women as political actors and as objects of often-misguided national and international development agencies’ policies.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Oyĕwùmí, Oyèrónké, ed. 2005. African gender studies: A reader. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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                                                                                                                                                                        This is a collection of writings from various disciplines, by African scholars within and outside the continent who utilize empirical findings from Africa to interrogate the question of gender and feminism. It contains previously published and new writing that essentially shows gender as a social construct.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Stamp, Patricia. 1991. Burying Otieno: The politics of gender and ethnicity in Kenya. Signs 16.4: 808–845.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1086/494704Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          An article based on a conflict over burial rights of a deceased Kenyan attorney, unraveling the interweaving issues of gender, ethnicity, politics, and social change within the context of a duality of tradition and modernity. The case study reflects the contradictions, opportunities, and challenges for forming a national identity and for realizing gender equality in Africa. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Tamale, Sylvia. 2000. “Point of order, Mr. Speaker”: African women claiming their space in parliament. In Special issue: Women and leadership. Gender & Development 8.3: 8–15.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/741923783Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Following the democratization wave of the 1990s, women in most African countries entered the political sphere to play a more visible role than they had hitherto done. This article examines whether women’s entry into visible political spaces is enough to overcome male bias, prejudice, and sexual harassment such women experience. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Existing Problems and Emerging Challenges

                                                                                                                                                                            As researchers and policymakers grapple to find solutions, there is no agreement as to which is the best way to explain and strategize on African society’s development, as seen in the hypothesis in de Waal and Whiteside 2003 and the caution in Ansell, et al. 2009 to the proposed research and policy framework for Africa’s future. While conflicts, food insecurity (Ansell, et al. 2009; de Waal and Whiteside 2003), health threats (Anyawu and Erhijakpor 2009; Kalipeni, et al. 2009), problems of political development (Bradshaw and Ndegwa 2000), conflicts (Nhema and Zeleza 2008a, Nhema and Zeleza 2008b), gender, and related socioeconomic challenges (Davison 1988) continue to plague African societies, the annotated works bring to light new ways of understanding these challenges, which should bring about new strategies to overcome them. See also Stoeltje 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Ansell, Nicola, Elsbeth Robson, Flora Hajdu, Lorraine van Blerk, and Lucy Chipeta. 2009. The new variant famine hypothesis: Moving beyond the household in exploring links between AIDS and food insecurity in southern Africa. Progress in Development Studies 9.3: 187–207.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/146499340800900302Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              This article argues that extra-household dynamics of social relationships, age and gender, the impacts of colonialism, and current national and international political-economy processes should not be ignored in policy analysis and policy prescriptions for solving Africa’s problems, especially in dealing with the AIDS challenge, which is by its very nature embedded in the political economy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Anyawu, John C., and Andrew E. O. Erhijakpor. 2009. Health expenditures and health outcomes in Africa. African Development Review 21.2: 400–433.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8268.2009.00215.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                This article links health outcomes (to infant mortality rates and under-five mortality), African countries’ per capita total and government health expenditures, regional variation (sub-Saharan Africa but not North Africa), female literacy, number of physicians, and democratic stability. This article is also important for researchers and policymakers and has important implications for the attainment of Millennium Development Goals. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Bradshaw, York, and Stephen N. Ndegwa, eds. 2000. The uncertain promise of southern Africa. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  This book assesses southern Africa’s political and developmental situation, education, health, gender, law, intra- and interregional power relations, international commerce, and popular culture. It identifies structural and institutional discontinuities as reflected in regional inequalities, natural resource and environmental concerns, cross-border migration, rural-urban migration, the position of women, and race.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Davison, Jean, ed. 1988. Agriculture, women, and land: The African experience. Westview Special Studies on Africa. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    This edited collection posits that historical and modern gender relations to land are critical toward the formulation of policies that would advance African women’s capabilities as food producers. The book presents theoretical overviews and case studies that show the diversity and complexity of social relations governing African women’s access to land.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • de Waal, Alex, and Alan Whiteside. 2003. New variant famine: AIDS and food crisis in southern Africa. The Lancet 362.9391: 1234–1237.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14548-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      De Waal and Whiteside’s “new-variant famine” hypothesis is proposed as a framework for analyzing the causes and trajectories of food insecurity in southern Africa, whereby the HIV/AIDS epidemic has contributed to the devastating food shortages. This framework is recommended for use in policymaking, relief provision, monitoring, and research. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Kalipeni, Ezekiel, Karen Flynn, and Cynthia Pope, eds. 2009. Strong women, dangerous times: Gender and HIV/AIDS in Africa. New York: Nova Science.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        This collection of essays on sub-Saharan Africa and one from the African diaspora demonstrate the complex nature of women’s lives and their risk to HIV, as well as women’s agency as they attempt to secure their livelihoods and to mitigate risk. The authors recommend an understanding of local conditions and advocacy for gender equality as key to stemming the HIV epidemic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Nhema, Alfred, and Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, eds. 2008a. The roots of African conflicts: The causes and costs. Oxford: James Currey.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          This volume, along with Nhema and Zeleza 2008b, authored mostly by Africans or individuals based at African institutions, provides a wide coverage of the causes and resolution of conflicts in Africa. The authors utilize historical and modern perspectives, making them a good source for researchers, students, and lay readers interested in the current and future direction of Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Nhema, Alfred, and Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, eds. 2008b. The resolution of African conflicts: The management of conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction. Oxford: James Currey.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            This volume, along with Nhema and Zeleza 2008a, authored mostly by Africans or individuals based at African institutions, examines conflicts in Africa by fleshing out their causes and offering possible resolutions. The authors utilize historical and modern perspectives, making them a good source for researchers, students, and lay readers interested in the current and future direction of Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Stoeltje, Beverly J. 2002. Introduction to Women, language, and law in Africa II: Gender and relations of power. In Special issue: Women, language, and law in Africa II. Africa Today 49.2: vii–xiv.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              The articles in this special issue examine legal issues, organizations, and institutions and show the existence of a discrepancy between the abstract philosophy of human rights and everyday social practices. Despite the obstacles women face, they are actively utilizing customary and state legal processes and institutions to advance their interests. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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