We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Postcolonial State in Africa

Fifty Years of Independence, 1960–2010

Crawford Young

Publication Year: 2012

In The Postcolonial State in Africa, Crawford Young offers an informed and authoritative comparative overview of fifty years of African independence, drawing on his decades of research and first-hand experience on the African continent.
    Young identifies three cycles of hope and disappointment common to many of the African states (including those in North Africa) over the last half-century: initial euphoria at independence in the 1960s followed by disillusionment with a lapse into single-party autocracies and military rule; a period of renewed confidence, radicalization, and ambitious state expansion in the 1970s preceding state crisis and even failure in the disastrous 1980s; and a phase of reborn optimism during the continental wave of democratization beginning around 1990. He explores in depth the many African civil wars—especially those since 1990—and three key tracks of identity: Africanism, territorial nationalism, and ethnicity.
    Only more recently, Young argues, have the paths of the fifty-three African states begun to diverge more dramatically, with some leading to liberalization and others to political, social, and economic collapse—outcomes impossible to predict at the outset of independence.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (506.0 KB)
pp. 2-7


pdf iconDownload PDF (43.6 KB)
pp. vii-9

List of Tables

pdf iconDownload PDF (43.5 KB)
pp. ix-11

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (47.7 KB)
pp. xi-xiii

In a real sense, this volume is a product of the half century of engagement with Africa, beginning with graduate study in 1955, that roughly overlaps the fifty years of African independence. Teaching and research concerning African politics was my primary mission during my academic career at the University of Wisconsin–Madison...

Glossary and Acronyms

pdf iconDownload PDF (47.4 KB)
pp. xv-xviii

Part One: Setting the Frame

pdf iconDownload PDF (28.5 KB)
pp. 1-83

read more

1. A Half Century of African Independence: Three Cycles of Hope and Disappointment

pdf iconDownload PDF (115.6 KB)
pp. 3-31

The symbolic date of African independence is commonly acknowledged to be 6 March 1957, when the colonial Gold Coast became the sovereign state of Ghana. Some might choose 1956, when Morocco, Tunisia, and Sudan all emerged from colonial occupation. But these transitions lacked the continental resonance of Ghanaian independence...

read more

2. In Search of the African State

pdf iconDownload PDF (171.3 KB)
pp. 32-83

The epigraphs to this chapter capture the yawning chasm separating once widespread visions of the mission and destiny of the African state, which reached a climax in the early 1970s, and the dispiriting realities of widespread state decline, crisis, failure, or even collapse that became dominant in the later 1980s.1 The itinerary of the state...

Part Two: Itineraries: Three Cycles of Hope and Disappointment

pdf iconDownload PDF (28.4 KB)
pp. 85-224

read more

3. Decolonization, the Independence Settlement, and Colonial Legacy

pdf iconDownload PDF (128.6 KB)
pp. 87-121

With an ever-increasing velocity, the “winds of change” British prime minister Harold MacMillan announced to a stupefied South African Parliament in 1960 swirled through Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. By 1970, only the Portuguese territories, the final white redoubts of southern Africa, and a few scattered...

read more

4. The Road to Autocracy: Breakdown of the Decolonization Settlements

pdf iconDownload PDF (130.7 KB)
pp. 122-157

The moment of enthusiasm that accompanied the rituals of independence faded quickly. The first decade of African independence saw a rapid transformation of the political landscape, from governance under the fragile democratic constitutions required by the withdrawing imperial powers as a condition of independence to predominantly...

read more

5. Anatomy of State Crisis

pdf iconDownload PDF (131.9 KB)
pp. 158-193

At the zenith of state expansion in 1974, Guinea-Bissau had been a lodestar for African hopes.1 Its remarkable liberation struggle from 1961 to 1974 had all but defeated a Portuguese army that peaked at fifty-thousand. Its extraordinary leader, Amilcar Cabral, won global admiration for his revolutionary doctrines, rooted in empowerment of rural society and a summons to the petty bourgeois political...

read more

6. Democratization and Its Limits

pdf iconDownload PDF (117.8 KB)
pp. 194-224

When the urban street erupted in Algeria in October 1988, shattering the seeming revolutionary élan of a once-invincible regime, few realized that this was the opening scene of a momentous transformation of the African political landscape.1 But a short two years later the surge of democratization appeared irresistible...

Part Three: Themes and Conclusions

pdf iconDownload PDF (28.5 KB)
pp. 225-374

read more

7. Morphology of Violent Civil Conflict

pdf iconDownload PDF (201.8 KB)
pp. 227-290

Violent civil conflict has been part of the African landscape since the 1950s, though its forms have radically altered. Armed liberation struggle played an important role in the drama of African independence, although sustained guerrilla challenge to colonial rule occurred in only a few territories. In the first three postcolonial...

read more

8. Africanism, Nationalism, and Ethnicity: The Ambiguous Triple Helix of Identity

pdf iconDownload PDF (146.9 KB)
pp. 291-333

The introductory citations point to the three pillars of identity this chapter will explore: Africanism, territorial nationalism, and ethnicity.1 I recollect sitting in a Wellesley College audience in 1960 mesmerized by the eloquent charisma of future president Julius Nyerere when he uttered the words cited in the epigraph. They draw...

read more

9. The African Postcolonial State: Concluding Reflections

pdf iconDownload PDF (142.0 KB)
pp. 334-374

These contrasting conclusions capture the spectrum of perception of a half century of African independence. Both authors are distinguished scholars of African politics who have immersed themselves in researching a number of states over most of this period. The disparity in their positions reflects the complexity and contradictions of the African state...


pdf iconDownload PDF (224.4 KB)
pp. 375-433


pdf iconDownload PDF (129.5 KB)
pp. 435-468

E-ISBN-13: 9780299291433
E-ISBN-10: 029929143X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299291440
Print-ISBN-10: 0299291448

Page Count: 424
Illustrations: 1 map, 12 tables
Publication Year: 2012