Reciprocal Comparison and African History: Tackling Conceptual Eurocentrism in the Study of Africa’s Economic Past [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Africa -- Economic conditions -- Historiography.
This article argues for constructive responses to the dominance, in the
analysis of African economic history, of concepts derived from Western experience.
It reviews the existing responses of this kind, highlighting the fact that some of the
most influential ideas applied to African economies, past and present, have been
coined in the context not of Europe or North America but rather of other relatively
poor regions formerly under European colonial rule. These “Third World”
contributions have been enriching for African studies, though they have been duly
criticized in African contexts, in accordance with the usual scholarly pattern. It is
argued here that the main requirement for overcoming conceptual Eurocentrism
in African history, in the interests of a more genuinely “general” social science and
“global” history, is reciprocal comparison of Africa and other continents—or, more
precisely, of specific areas within Africa with counterparts elsewhere. Pioneering
examples of such comparisons are reviewed and, to illustrate the possibilities, a set
of propositions is put forward from African history that may be useful for specialists
on other parts of the world. The article concludes with suggestions for ways in which
Africanists can best pursue the project of reciprocal comparison, and with a plea for
us to be more intellectually ambitious.
Izugbara, Chimaraoke O.
Constituting the Unsafe: Nigerian Sex Workers’ Notions of Unsafe Sexual Conduct [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Prostitutes -- Nigeria -- Attitudes.
Unsafe sex -- Nigeria.
This article reports findings of a qualitative inquiry on representations of
unsafe sexual conduct among female sex workers in Aba, Nigeria. Participating sex
workers viewed their work as a form of business, a survival imperative in the face of
poverty, and they generally considered it both risky and disgraceful. However, they
frequently framed unsafe sexual behavior in terms of poorly remunerated unprotected
sex with clients. Sex workers in the study were not only generally willing to
grant, but also confirmed regularly granting, unprotected sex to clients offering to
pay a premium for it. Receiving “good money” for unprotected sex made higher
degrees of risk acceptable to these women and was considered an effective way to
avoid clients assumed to be carriers of infections. In their struggle for sexual health,
sex workers in Nigeria are hindered by poverty, powerlessness, and marginality. Future
programs must aim, inter alia, at supporting sex workers’ willingness to insist
on condoms no matter what clients offer them to do otherwise.
Mwakalobo, Adam B. S.
Implications of HIV/AIDS for Rural Livelihoods in Tanzania: The Example of Rungwe District [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
HIV infections -- Economic aspects -- Tanzania -- Rungwe District.
AIDS (Disease) -- Economic aspects -- Tanzania -- Rungwe District.
Cost and standard of living -- Tanzania -- Rungwe District.
HIV/AIDS is disrupting household livelihood security in Tanzania’s rural
communities and contributing to rural impoverishment by claiming the lives of the
most productive young adults who make up the bulk of the labor force in those
areas. This article presents results of a case study based on a survey of 119 households
conducted in three villages of Rungwe district in Tanzania. The results reveal
that households with HIV/AIDS deaths spend less on food than those without AIDS
deaths, and that households with HIV and AIDS-related deaths are more likely to
fall below the poverty line.
China’s expanded links to Africa have created a discourse of how to characterize
those ties. Western political forces and media have criticized every aspect
of China’s activities in Africa, while Chinese, with significant support from Africans,
have mounted a spirited defense. This article examines several factors that make
China’s links with Africa distinctive, including China’s aid and migration policies,
the distinctive “Chinese model” of foreign investment and infrastructure loans, and
the development model known as the “Beijing Consensus.” It argues that particular
aspects of China’s links with Africa make the People’s Republic of China (PRC)
seem a lesser evil than the West in terms of support for Africa’s development and
respect for African nations.
Modern Agricultural History in Malawi: Perspectives on Policy-Choice Explanations [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Agriculture and state -- Malawi -- History.
Agriculture -- Malawi -- History.
Development research is often associated with issues of policy. Researchers
aim to increase our contextual and theoretical knowledge to enhance the creation
of “good” development policies. One way of doing this is to identify and learn from
harmful policies of the past. The objective of this article is to examine such policychoice
explanations by looking at the dominant understandings of the modern
history of agriculture in Malawi. These perspectives share the view that the high
level of rural poverty is, to a great extent, an outcome of the agricultural policies
implemented by the colonial and postcolonial governments. Of crucial importance
are the mechanisms whereby the state actively tried to transfer resources from the
smallholder sector to the state or to the estate sector. This had a negative impact
on the production capacity of the smallholder sector. This article notes that the
focus on policies alone is not a sufficient approach to understand the dynamics and
limitations of the smallholder sector. The article also points to some methodological
weaknesses with policy-choice explanations that are relevant for development
research in general.