Government of Development

Government of Development

Peasants and Politicians in Postcolonial Tanzania
Leander Schneider
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/17/2014
Format: Paperback 1 map, 19 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01399-6
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Finalist, 2015 African Studies Association Ogot Award

What drives state officials to force development projects on resisting "beneficiary" populations? In his new analysis of the Tanzanian state’s 1960s and 1970s campaign to settle the country's rural population in socialist villages, Leander Schneider traces the discourses and practices that authorized state officials to direct the lives of peasants—by coercive means if necessary. Government of Development shows that the practices constituting this project's mode of government far exceeded political elites’ pursuit of their own narrow interests, the go-to explanation for many accounts of similar instances of authoritarian rule and developmental failures in Africa and beyond.

Author Bio

Leander Schneider is Associate Professor of Political Science at Concordia University.


“Profoundly rich empirical evidence shows villagization’s peculiar, personalized, and self-destructive aspects, soundly based on rare and exceptionally rigorous archival research; it alone makes this book worth reading.”
 — James R. Brennan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“Cogent, persuasive, and well-researched, Schneider successfully provides a nuanced and penetrating analysis that is woven into a compelling narrative.”
 — J. Michael Williams, University of San Diego

“No one in recent decades has written with such clarity and care about Tanzania and the rise and decline of its signal "ujamaa vijijini" policy as has Leander Schneider. Here, he views Tanzanian socialism more broadly, and in a suggestive, if controversial, comparative perspective, while also exploring the country’s once bold plans for transformation and their fatally flawed execution.”
 — John S. Saul, York University and the University of Dar es Salaam

“All students of Africa and of development should read Leander Schneider’s superb analysis of Tanzanian rural policy under Nyerere. First, it sits absolutely atop the mountain of other studies of villagisation by virtue of its empirical mastery and analytical subtlety. Second, it represents a devastating critique of the fatal methodological simplifications that plague much of contemporary social science.”
 — James C. Scott, Yale University

“Government of Development makes its argument with vigor, directness, and clarity. Although this is not social history, the book’s arguments should resonate with social historians. The fundamental conviction underlying Schneider’s argument is that actors in history must be understood not as stereotypes or instruments of class rule, but as complex human characters who exercise agency within particular social constraints. Towards the book’s end, having observed that people are driven by 'habit; ideological commitment; vindictiveness; hubris; an unwillingness to surrender; miscalculations, prejudice,' he concludes that history must 'be read from the standpoint of its agents—and thus not backward from outcomes to underlying causes, but forward, as it flows toward an unpredictable future'. . . . These wise words are useful for all historians, and are particularly welcome as a contribution to the study of the postcolonial African state.”
 — International Journal of African Historical Studies

“Responding to Tanzania’s activist state, scholars have produced a rich literature on its government and society, carrying insights that travel well beyond its borders. Leander Schneider’s compact new book carries this tradition forward honorably. His study not only helps us understand the lessons of Tanzania’s disappointing villagization strategy, but also provides a useful methodology for the analysis of political process.”
 — The Journal of African History

“Between 1968 and 1977 the Tanzanian government compelled some thirteen million citizens—about 75 percent of the population—to live in registered villages in a process known as ujamaa (socialist) villagization. . . [F]ocuses on official thinking and modes of governance that evolved from an emphasis on freedom and voluntary peasant participation in the mid-1960s to coercion backed by police force by the early 1970s, when most farmers were forced to move. 120.5”
 — American Historical Review

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Table of Contents


1. The Ruvuma Development Association: Tanzania’s New Model Villages
2. Culture Clash: The Destruction of the Ruvuma Development Association
3. Chronicle of a Failure Foretold: State Officials’ Developmentalist Authority in Action
4. Planning the Future: A Practice and Its Authority-Effects
5. The World of Officials in the Trenches, Potemkin Villages, and Criticism as Treason
6. The Brave Parsimonious World of Materialist-Utilitarian Analysis


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