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The Church of Women

Gendered Encounters between Maasai and Missionaries

Dorothy L. Hodgson

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.

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Cinema and Development in West Africa

Film as a Vehicle for Liberation

James E. Genova

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.

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Citizenship between Empire and Nation

Remaking France and French Africa, 1945-1960

Frederick Cooper

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.

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Civil Society, Conflict Resolution, and Democracy in Nigeria

by Darren Kew

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.

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The Clash of the Titans and Other Short Stories

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.

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Closing the Books

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.

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Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea, 1946-1958

Elizabeth Schmidt

In September 1958, Guinea claimed its independence, rejecting a constitution that would have relegated it to junior partnership in the French Community. In all the French empire, Guinea was the only territory to vote “No.” Orchestrating the “No” vote was the Guinean branch of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), an alliance of political parties with affiliates in French West and Equatorial Africa and the United Nations trusts of Togo and Cameroon. Although Guinea’s stance vis-à-vis the 1958 constitution has been recognized as unique, until now the historical roots of this phenomenon have not been adequately explained.
Clearly written and free of jargon, Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea argues that Guinea’s vote for independence was the culmination of a decade-long struggle between local militants and political leaders for control of the political agenda. Since 1950, when RDA representatives in the French parliament severed their ties to the French Communist Party, conservative elements had dominated the RDA. In Guinea, local cadres had opposed the break. Victimized by the administration and sidelined by their own leaders, they quietly rebuilt the party from the base. Leftist militants, their voices muted throughout most of the decade, gained preeminence in 1958, when trade unionists, students, the party’s women’s and youth wings, and other grassroots actors pushed the Guinean RDA to endorse a “No” vote. Thus, Guinea’s rejection of the proposed constitution in favor of immediate independence was not an isolated aberration. Rather, it was the outcome of years of political mobilization by activists who, despite Cold War repression, ultimately pushed the Guinean RDA to the left.
The significance of this highly original book, based on previously unexamined archival records and oral interviews with grassroots activists, extends far beyond its primary subject. In illuminating the Guinean case, Elizabeth Schmidt helps us understand the dynamics of decolonization and its legacy for postindependence nation-building in many parts of the developing world.
Examining Guinean history from the bottom up, Schmidt considers local politics within the larger context of the Cold War, making her book suitable for courses in African history and politics, diplomatic history, and Cold War history.

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Collected Works of Nana Asma'u

Daughter of Usman 'dan Fodiyo (1793-1864)

Jean Boyd

Nana Asma'u Bint Usman 'dan Fodio, a nineteenth-century Muslim scholar, lived in the region now known as northern Nigeria and was an eyewitness to battles of the largest of the West-African jihads of the era. The preparation and conduct of the jihad provide the topics for Nana Asma'u's poetry. Her work also includes treatises on history, law, mysticism, theology, and politics, and was heavily influenced by the Arabic poetic tradition. 
     This volume contains annotated translations of works by the 19th century intellectual giant, Nana Asma'u, including 54 poems and prose texts. Asma'u rallied public opinion behind a movement devoted to the revival of Islam in West Africa, and organized a public education system for women.

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Colonial Culture in France since the Revolution

Translated by Alexis Pernsteiner. Edited by Pascal Blanchard, Sandrine Lemaire, Nicolas Bancel, and Dominic Thomas

This landmark collection by an international group of scholars and public intellectuals represents a major reassessment of French colonial culture and how it continues to inform thinking about history, memory, and identity. This reexamination of French colonial culture, provides the basis for a revised understanding of its cultural, political, and social legacy and its lasting impact on postcolonial immigration, the treatment of ethnic minorities, and national identity.

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Colonial Meltdown

Northern Nigeria in the Great Depression

Moses E. Ochonu

Historians of colonial Africa have largely regarded the decade of the Great Depression as a period of intense exploitation and colonial inactivity. In Colonial Meltdown, Moses E. Ochonu challenges this conventional interpretation by mapping the determined, at times violent, yet instructive responses of Northern Nigeria’s chiefs, farmers, laborers, artisans, women, traders, and embryonic elites to the British colonial mismanagement of the Great Depression. Colonial Meltdown explores the unraveling of British colonial power at a moment of global economic crisis.

Ochonu shows that the economic downturn made colonial exploitation all but impossible and that this dearth of profits and surpluses frustrated the colonial administration which then authorized a brutal regime of grassroots exactions and invasive intrusions. The outcomes were as harsh for Northern Nigerians as those of colonial exploitation in boom years.

Northern Nigerians confronted colonial economic recovery measures and their agents with a variety of strategies. Colonial Meltdown analyzes how farmers, women, laborers, laid-off tin miners, and Northern Nigeria’s emergent elite challenged and rebelled against colonial economic recovery schemes with evasive trickery, defiance, strategic acts of revenge, and criminal self-help and, in the process, exposed the weak underbelly of the colonial system.

Combined with the economic and political paralysis of colonial bureaucrats in the face of crisis, these African responses underlined the fundamental weakness of the colonial state, the brittleness of its economic mission, and the limits of colonial coercion and violence. This atmosphere of colonial collapse emboldened critics of colonial policies who went on to craft the rhetorical terms on which the anticolonial struggle of the post–World War II period was fought out.

In the current climate of global economic anxieties, Ochonu’s analysis will enrich discussions on the transnational ramifications of economic downturns. It will also challenge the pervasive narrative of imperial economic success.

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