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How Colonialism Preempted Modernity in Africa

Olúfémi Táíwò

Publication Year: 2010

Why hasn't Africa been able to respond to the challenges of modernity and globalization? Going against the conventional wisdom that colonialism brought modernity to Africa, Olúfémi Táíwò claims that Africa was already becoming modern and that colonialism was an unfinished project. Africans aspired to liberal democracy and the rule of law, but colonial officials aborted those efforts when they established indirect rule in the service of the European powers. Táíwò looks closely at modern institutions, such as church missionary societies, to recognize African agency and the impulse toward progress. He insists that Africa can get back on track and advocates a renewed engagement with modernity. Immigration, capitalism, democracy, and globalization, if done right this time, can be tools that shape a positive future for Africa.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-xii

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pp. 1-17

The work presented in this book and the research on which it is based started innocently, perhaps even obliquely. It was 1989 and the movement that would later morph into the so-called third wave of the transition to democracy in Africa was yet to ignite. ...

Part 1: Colonialism

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1. Colonialism: A Philosophical Profile

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pp. 21-48

I would like to start with a question: What do Canada, the United States, South Korea, Nigeria, India, Australia, and the Republic of South Africa have in common? They are all former colonies. This is not an insignificant fact. In both scholarship and everyday discourse we talk of the original colonies of the United States. ...

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2. Running Aground on Colonial Shores: The Saga of Modernity and Colonialism

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pp. 49-97

In the previous chapter, I showed how colonialism in Africa was also a system of philosophical exclusions. Dominated as it was by these exclusions, colonialism in Africa unfolded along a particular trajectory that many analysts considered inevitable. ...

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3. Prophets without Honor: African Apostles of Modernity in the Nineteenth Century

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pp. 98-127

In the last chapter, I discussed the general philosophical elements of the transition to modernity directed by Africans exercising agency in the nineteenth century and how it was aborted by the administrator class among colonialists. ...

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4. Reading the Colonizer's Mind: Lord Lugard and the Philosophical Foundations of British Colonialism

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pp. 128-154

Of the two components of the colonial whole, the colonized and the colonizer, much attention has been directed at the situation of the colonized. Few attempts have been made to go behind the mind of the colonizer. Of course, I am aware of historical studies, biographies, and such like that do. ...

Part 2: The Aftermath

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5. The Legal Legacy: Twilight before Dawn

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pp. 157-201

In an era dominated by the strident polemical lucubrations of postmodernism, it is risky, to say the least, to argue for the relevance of modernity, specifically its political discourse, to an understanding of some contemporary phenomena. ...

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6. Two Modern African Constitutions

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pp. 202-233

In the last chapter, I argued that in accounting for the failure of a rule of law regime to take root in Africa, we must resist the temptation, however alluring it may be, to blame African cultures or any so-called defects in “the African character or personality.” ...

Part 3: Looking Forward

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7. Globalization: Doing It Right This Time Around

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pp. 237-272

With this chapter the book comes full circle. I started out by exploring how Africa became a marked absence in the discourse of modernity even though the phenomenon has profoundly stamped Africa and made its peoples the bearers of its severest burdens but not the enjoyers of its sweetest fruits. ...

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pp. 273-274

This book has raised and, I hope, answered many questions regarding the nature of the relation between Africa and modernity. I have argued that at least in its Western part Africans had begun a transition to modernity in the first three quarters of the nineteenth century and that that transition was aborted when formal empire foisted a peculiar variety...


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pp. 275-322


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pp. 323-327

INDEX [Includes Back Cover]

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pp. 329-352

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003973
E-ISBN-10: 0253003970
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253353740

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2010