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Hitherto the human rights debate in Africa has concentrated on the legal and philosophical. The author, Professor of Law at the University of Dar es Salaam, here moves the debate to the social and political planes. He attempts to reconceptualise human rights ideology from the standpoint of the working people in Africa. He defines the approach as avoiding the pitfalls of the liberal perspective as being absolutist in viewing human rights as a central question and the rights struggle as the backbone of democratic struggles. The author maintains that such a study cannot be politically neutral or intellectually uncommitted. Both the critique of dominant discourse and the reconceptualisation are located within the current social science and jurisprudential debates.
Avner Ben-Zaken reconsiders the fundamental question of how early modern scientific thought traveled between Western and Eastern cultures in the age of the so-called Scientific Revolution. Through five meticulously researched case studies—in which he explores how a single obscure object or text moved in the Eastern world—Ben-Zaken reveals the intricate ways that scientific knowledge moved across cultures. His diligent exploration traces the eastward flow of post-Copernican cosmologies and scientific discoveries, showing how these ideas were disseminated, modified, and applied to local cultures. Never before has a student of scientific traffic in the Mediterranean taken such pains to see precisely which instruments, books, and ideas first appeared where, in whose hands, by what means, and with what implications. In doing so, Ben-Zaken challenges accepted views of Western primacy in this fruitful exchange. He shows not only how Islamic cultures benefited from European scientific knowledge but also how Eastern understanding of classical Greek texts informed developments in the West. Ben-Zaken’s mastery of different cultures and languages uniquely positions him to tell this intriguing story. His findings reshape our understanding of scientific discourse in this critical period and contribute to the growing field of cross-cultural Christian-Muslim studies.
Essays on the Postcolonial Aura in Africa
Cry My Beloved Africa is a compendium of essays having as locus the continent of Africa. It comprises insightful observations on the politics, governmental systems, political economy, cultural practices, educational systems and natural phenomena that impact on the lives of Africans. True to the tradition of French novelist Stendhal, the author intends this work to serve as a mirror that reflects the day-to-day living of the different peoples that inhabit the fifty-three nation-states in Africa. It is directed to contemporary Africa and to the relationship between Africa and the rest of the globe. The didactic value of the book resides in its suitability to the young and the old. The language is clear and free of sophistry.
Performing Early Colonial Hegemony in the Congo
A Dance of Assassins presents the competing histories of how Congolese Chief Lusinga and Belgian Lieutenant Storms engaged in a deadly clash while striving to establish hegemony along the southwestern shores of Lake Tanganyika in the 1880s. While Lusinga participated in the east African slave trade, Storms' secret mandate was to meet Henry Stanley's eastward march and trace "a white line across the Dark Continent" to legitimize King Leopold's audacious claim to the Congo. Confrontation was inevitable, and Lusinga lost his head. His skull became the subject of a sinister evolutionary treatise, while his ancestral figure is now considered a treasure of the Royal Museum for Central Africa. Allen F. Roberts reveals the theatricality of early colonial encounter and how it continues to influence Congolese and Belgian understandings of history today.
From its modest beginnings in the mid-19th century, Dar es Salaam has grown to become one of sub-Saharan Africa?s most important urban centres. A major political, economic and cultural hub, the city stood at the cutting edge of trends that transformed twentieth-century East Africa. Dar es Salaam has recently attracted the attention of a diverse, multi-disciplinary, range of scholars, making it currently one of the continent?s most studied urban centres. This collection from eleven scholars from Africa, Europe, North America and Japan, draws on some of the best of this scholarship and offers a comprehensive, and accessible, survey of the city?s development. The perspectives include history, musicology, ethnomusicology, culture including popular culture, land and urban economics. The opening chapter offers a comprehensive overview of the history of the city. Subsequent chapters examine Dar es Salaam?s twentieth century experience through the prism of social change and the administrative repercussions of rapid urbanisation; and through popular culture and shifting social relations. The book will be of interest not only to the specialist in urban studies but also to the general reader with an interest in Dar es Salaam?s environmental, social and cultural history.
In the rush to development in Botswana, and Africa more generally, changes in work, diet, and medical care have resulted in escalating experiences of chronic illness, debilitating disease, and accident. Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana documents how transformations wrought by colonialism, independence, industrialization, and development have effected changes in bodily life and perceptions of health, illness, and debility. In this intimate and powerful book, Julie Livingston explores the lives of debilitated persons, their caregivers, the medical and social networks of caring, and methods that communities have adopted for promoting well-being. Livingston traces how Tswana medical thought and practice have become intertwined with Western bio-medical ideas and techniques. By focusing on experiences and meanings of illness and bodily misfortune, Livingston sheds light on the complexities of the current HIV/AIDS epidemic and places it in context with a long and complex history of impairment and debility. This book presents practical and thoughtful responses to physical misfortune and offers an understanding of the complex dynamic between social change and suffering.
Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African Diaspora
Mangrove rice farming on West Africa's Rice Coast was the mirror image of tidewater rice plantations worked by enslaved Africans in 18th-century South Carolina and Georgia. This book reconstructs the development of rice-growing technology among the Baga and Nalu of coastal Guinea, beginning more than a millennium before the transatlantic slave trade. It reveals a picture of dynamic pre-colonial coastal societies, quite unlike the static, homogenous pre-modern Africa of previous scholarship. From its examination of inheritance, innovation, and borrowing, Deep Roots fashions a theory of cultural change that encompasses the diversity of communities, cultures, and forms of expression in Africa and the African diaspora.
Rwanda under Musinga, 1896–1931
A Rwandan proverb says “Defeat is the only bad news.” For Rwandans living under colonial rule, winning called not only for armed confrontation, but also for a battle of wits—and not only with foreigners, but also with each other. In Defeat Is the Only Bad News Alison Des Forges recounts the ambitions, strategies, and intrigues of an African royal court under Yuhi Musinga, the Rwandan ruler from 1896 to 1931. These were turbulent years for Rwanda, when first Germany and then Belgium pursued an aggressive plan of colonization there. At the time of the Europeans’ arrival, Rwanda was also engaged in a succession dispute after the death of one of its most famous kings. Against this backdrop, the Rwandan court became the stage for a drama of Shakespearean proportions, filled with deceit, shrewd calculation, ruthless betrayal, and sometimes murder.
Mali, a country rich with history and culture, but one of the poorest in the world, emerged in the 1990s as one of Africa's most vibrant democracies. Strengthened by bold political and economic reforms at home, Mali has emerged as a leader in African peacekeeping efforts. How has such a transition taken place? How have these changes built on Mali's rich heritage? These are the questions that the contributors to this volume have addressed. During the past twenty-five years, the scholarly research and applied development work of Michigan State University faculty and students in Mali represents the most significant combined, long-term, and continuing contribution of any group of university faculty in the United States or Europe to the study of Malian society, economy, and politics. The applied nature of much of this work has resulted in a significant number of working papers, reports, and conference presentations. This volume represents a coherent and connected set of essays from one American university with a widely known and highly respected role in African development. While the essays identify and review Mali's unique historical and contemporary path to democracy and development, they also contribute to the advancement of theoretical knowledge about African development. Contributors: R. James Bingen, Andrew F. Clark, John Uniack Davis, Niama Nango Dembélé, Salifou Bakary Diarra, Cheikh Oumar Diarrah, Georges Dimithè, Josué Dioné, Maria Grosz- Ngaté, John H. Hanson, Adame Ba Konaré, Ghislaine Lydon, Nancy Mezey, David Rawson, David Robinson, John M. Staatz, and James Tefft.
The Colonial Order and the Creation of Knowledge
The Demographics of Empire is a collection of essays examining the multifaceted nature of the colonial science of demography in the last two centuries. The contributing scholars of Africa and the British and French empires focus on three questions: How have historians, demographers, and other social scientists understood colonial populations? What were the demographic realities of African societies and how did they affect colonial systems of power? Finally, how did demographic theories developed in Europe shape policies and administrative structures in the colonies? The essays approach the subject as either broad analyses of major demographic questions in Africa’s history or focused case studies that demonstrate how particular historical circumstances in individual African societies contributed to differing levels of fertility, mortality, and migration. Together, the contributors to The Demographics of Empire question demographic orthodoxy, and in particular the assumption that African societies in the past exhibited a single demographic regime characterized by high fertility and high mortality.