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History, Politics, and Land Ownership in Northern Ghana
In his new book, the eminent anthropologist Wyatt MacGaffey provides an ethnographically enriched history of Dagbon from the fifteenth century to the present, setting that history in the context of the regional resources and political culture of northern Ghana. Chiefs, Priests, and Praise-Singers shows how the history commonly assumed by scholars has been shaped by the prejudices of colonial anthropology, the needs of British indirect rule, and local political agency. The book demonstrates, too, how political agency has shaped the kinship system. MacGaffey traces the evolution of chieftaincy as the sources of power changed and as land ceased to be simply the living space of the dependents of a chief and became a commodity and a resource for development. The internal violence in Dagbon that has been a topic of national and international concern since 2002 is shown to be a product of the interwoven values of tradition, modern Ghanaian politics, modern education, and economic opportunism.
Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa
Christianity and Public Culture in Africa takes the reader beyond Africa’s apparent exceptionalism. African Christians have created new publics, often in ways that offer fresh insights into the symbolic and practical boundaries separating the secular and the sacred, the private and the public, and the liberal and the illiberal. Critical reason and Christian convictions have combined in surprising ways when African Christians have engaged with vital public issues such as national constitutions and gender relations, and with literary imaginings and controversies over tradition and HIV/AIDS.
The contributors demonstrate how the public significance of Christianity varies across time and place. They explore rural Africa and the continent’s major cities, and colonial and missionary situations, as well as mass-mediated ideas and images in the twenty-first century. They also reveal the plurality of Pentecostalism in Africa and keep in view the continent’s continuing denominational diversity. Students and scholars will find these topical studies to be impressive in scope.
Gendered Encounters between Maasai and Missionaries
In Africa, why have so many more women converted to Christianity than men? What explains the appeal of Christianity to women? What does religious conversion mean for the negotiation of gender and ethnic identity? What role does religious conversion play as a tool for empowering women? In The Church of Women, Dorothy L. Hodgson looks at how gender has shaped the encounter between missionary priests and Maasai men and women in Tanzania. Building on her extensive experience with Maasai and the Spiritan missionaries, Hodgson explores how gendered change among Maasai has shaped women's notions of religious faith, religious practice, and spiritual power. Hodgson explores the appeal of Catholicism among women in East Africa, the enmeshing of Catholic practice with Maasai spirituality, and the meaning of conversion to new Christians. This rich, engaging, and original book challenges notions about religious encounter and the role of ethnic identity, female authority, and power among Maasai.
Film as a Vehicle for Liberation
Cinema and Development in West Africa shows how the film industry in Francophone West African countries played an important role in executing strategies of nation building during the transition from French rule to the early postcolonial period. James E. Genova sees the construction of African identities and economic development as the major themes in the political literature and cultural production of the time. Focusing on film both as industry and aesthetic genre, he demonstrates its unique place in economic development and provides a comprehensive history of filmmaking in the region during the transition from colonies to sovereign states.
Remaking France and French Africa, 1945-1960
As the French public debates its present diversity and its colonial past, few remember that between 1946 and 1960 the inhabitants of French colonies possessed the rights of French citizens. Moreover, they did not have to conform to the French civil code that regulated marriage and inheritance. One could, in principle, be a citizen and different too. Citizenship between Empire and Nation examines momentous changes in notions of citizenship, sovereignty, nation, state, and empire in a time of acute uncertainty about the future of a world that had earlier been divided into colonial empires.
Frederick Cooper explains how African political leaders at the end of World War II strove to abolish the entrenched distinction between colonial “subject” and “citizen.” They then used their new status to claim social, economic, and political equality with other French citizens, in the face of resistance from defenders of a colonial order. Africans balanced their quest for equality with a desire to express an African political personality. They hoped to combine a degree of autonomy with participation in a larger, Franco-African ensemble. French leaders, trying to hold on to a large French polity, debated how much autonomy and how much equality they could concede. Both sides looked to versions of federalism as alternatives to empire and the nation-state. The French government had to confront the high costs of an empire of citizens, while Africans could not agree with French leaders or among themselves on how to balance their contradictory imperatives. Cooper shows how both France and its former colonies backed into more “national” conceptions of the state than either had sought.
African nations have watched the recent civic dramas of the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street asking if they too will see similar civil society actions in their own countries. Nigeria—Africa’s most populous nation—has long enjoyed one of the continent’s most vibrant civil society spheres, which has been instrumental in political change. Initially viewed as contributing to democracy’s development, however, civil society groups have come under increased scrutiny by scholars and policymakers. Do some civil society groups promote democracy more effectively than others? And if so, which ones, and why? By examining the structure, organizational cultures, and methods of more than one hundred Nigerian civil society groups, Kew finds that the groups that best promote democratic development externally are themselves internally democratic. Specifically, the internally democratic civil society groups build more sustainable coalitions to resist authoritarian rule; support and influence political parties more effectively; articulate and promote public interests in a more negotiable fashion; and, most importantly, inculcate democratic norms in their members, which in turn has important democratizing impacts on national political cultures and institutions. Further, internally democratic groups are better able to resolve ethnic differences and ethnic-based tensions than their undemocratically structured peers. This book is a deeply comprehensive account of Nigerian civil society groups in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Kew blends democratic theory with conflict resolution methodologies to argue that the manner in which groups—and states—manage internal conflicts provides an important gauge as to how democratic their political cultures are. The conclusions will allow donors and policymakers to make strategic decisions in their efforts to build a democratic society in Nigeria and other regions.
The Clash of the Titans and Other Short Stories is a sundry, marvellous collection of short stories that reflect and capture diverse life experiences. Mabeza and Mawere offer with great dexterousness a snapshot, richness, and practical potentialities of childhood to adulthood experiences in shaping, inspiring and influencing moral rectitude, industriousness and determination. This is an incisive and invigorating exposÈ steeped in candour and earnestness. For aficionados of creative writing, cognoscenti, students and instructors of English Literature, this is a collection to enjoy and cherish.
Governor Edward Carstensen on Danish Guinea 1842-50
Sitting on the terrace of the royal plantation Frederiksgave, his favourite retreat, Governor Edward Carstensen came to see the inevitable: Denmark had to give up her ìpossessionsî in Africa. As fate would have it, he came to be the instrument by which two centuries of Danish involvement on the Gold Coast was terminated, thereby making way for the emergence of the colonial system that developed there. After the abolition of the slave trade, Denmark had struggled to find ways and means to legitimate her continued stay at the Coast. At an early stage the Danes initiated a number of attempts to establish experimental plantations to cultivate export crops such as cotton, coffee and sugar. But a transition from slave trade to ìlegitimateî products required stability and peace, and a need for control, which the rather limited Danish presence was not able to maintain. Closing the Books comprises a compilation of the official reports that the last Danish Governor sent home during his term of office at the Gold Coast. The reports reflect his personal views regarding the economic and political situations there, as well as his ideas on the ìcivilization of Africaî.