Youth, Nationalism, and the Guinean Revolution

Youth, Nationalism, and the Guinean Revolution

James D. Straker
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/25/1990
ISBN: 978-0-253-00272-3
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In 1958, Guinea declared independence from France and propelled Ahmed Sékou Touré to power. Early revolutionary fervor was not to last, and until his death in 1984, Sékou Touré ruled with an iron fist. What would it have been like to participate in Guinea's changing political fortunes? Jay Straker invites readers to reconsider the sources, stakes, and ramifications of Guinea's nation-building experience. By engaging official political tracts, state and popular newspapers, education journals, novels, poems, plays, photographs, and personal histories, Straker offers an alternative view of the uneven effects of the state's attempts to reshape popular attitudes, social practice, and youth consciousness. Showing how visions of ideal youth played into the workings of revolutionary power, Straker creates a captivating and intense history that uncovers the ambitions that drove militant socialist-revolutionary politics in Guinea.

Author Bio

Jay Straker is Assistant Professor in the Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies at the Colorado School of Mines.


“Showing how visions of ideal youth played into the workings of revolutionary power, Straker creates a captivating and intense history, uncovering the ambitions that drove militant socialist-revolutionary politics in Guinea.”

“Skillfully weaves together different accounts, perspectives, and voices to reveal a complex and nuanced story of a postcolonial African socialist state. . . . well conceived, analytically compelling, and elegantly written.”
 — Mary Jo Arnoldi, Smithsonian Institution

“Straker succeeds brilliantly in adding nuance and detail to our knowledge of the history of Guinea’s revolution. . . . 'Youth, Nationalism, and the Guinean Revolution' offer[s] historians and cultural critics alike provocative points of entry into a fascinating range of stories and meanings.Vol. 52.3 Dec. 2009”
 — Mairi MacDonald, University of Toronto

“Jay Straker . . . presensts this compelling description of the Guinean revolution . . . .Straker shows the intricacies of the young nation's politics. The book considers both the short- and long-term effects of the revolution and examines how visions of ideal youth were the true driving force behind Guinea's social and political revolution.July 1, 2009”
 — Mines Magazine

“[T]his book is an important one. It sheds light on the voices and perspectives of 'common' Guineans, and it brings the study of Guinea's history to a new and more nuanced level. It will be of general interest to those concerned with questions of nationalism, socialism, and youth in Africa and elsewhere, and it will also be of interest to those focusing on African cultural politics and postcolonial African states.Vol. 50 2009”
 — Emily Lynn Osborn, University of Chicago

“Jay Straker's book is part of a long overdue historical reconsideration of the first decade of African independence. ...Straker has written a vivid and powerfully optimistic work of compelling cultural history that is a welcome antidote to the pessimistic cynicism that pervades journalistic and scholarly accounts of African politics and nation building.April 2010”
 — Timothy Parsons, Washington University, St. Louis

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
1. Introduction: Whose Re-imagined Community?
Part 1. Imagining and Instituting a New Youth
2. Envisioning Youth across the Border of Independence
3. Ideologies of Schooling, Teachers' Authority, and Cultural Revolution
4. The Rise of Militant Theater
Part 2. Ventures and Misadventures in the Revolutionary Forest
5. Construing and Constructing the Nation's Margins: Troubles with the Forest and Forestiers
6. Forestier Itineraries across Revolutionary Pedagogical Domains
7. Forestier Stories of Militant Theater: Discovering the Motives and Moralities of a Revolutionary State
8. Conclusion: Nationalism and Memory after the Revolution