How Colonialism Preempted Modernity in Africa

How Colonialism Preempted Modernity in Africa

Olúfémi Táíwò
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/11/2010
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22130-8
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Winner, Caribbean Philosophical Association’s 2015 Frantz Fanon Award for Outstanding Work in Caribbean Thought

Why hasn't Africa been able to respond to the challenges of modernity and globalization? Going against the conventional wisdom that colonialism brought modernity to Africa, Olúfémi Táíwò claims that Africa was already becoming modern and that colonialism was an unfinished project. Africans aspired to liberal democracy and the rule of law, but colonial officials aborted those efforts when they established indirect rule in the service of the European powers. Táíwò looks closely at modern institutions, such as church missionary societies, to recognize African agency and the impulse toward progress. He insists that Africa can get back on track and advocates a renewed engagement with modernity. Immigration, capitalism, democracy, and globalization, if done right this time, can be tools that shape a positive future for Africa.

Author Bio

Olúfémi Táíwò is Professor of Philosophy and Global African Studies and Director of the Global African Studies Program at Seattle University. He is author of Legal Naturalism: A Marxist Theory of Law.


“Through studying modern institutions this book looks toward tools that may shape a positive future for Africa through immigration, capitalism, democracy, and globalization.”

“This book is concerned with nothing less than the future of Africa.”
 — Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Columbia University

“This is undoubtebly a stimulating book ... that deserves to be widely read. Its engagingly polemical style and provocative conclusions will no doubt enliven many a future seminar discussions.April 2011”
 — American Historical Review

“This courageous book, written with verve, clarity and an impressive command of social theory, is essentially a work of 'philosophical history', a morally engaged analysis of Africa's contemporary predicament in the light of a particular, selective reading of its history. Vol. 81.3, 2011”
 — Africa

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Of Subjectivity and Sociocryonics

Part 1. Colonialism
1. Colonialism: A Philosophical Profile
2. Running Aground on Colonial Shores: The Saga of Modernity and Colonialism
3. Prophets without Honor: African Apostles of Modernity in the Nineteenth Century
4. Reading the Colonizer’s Mind: Lord Lugard and the Philosophical Foundations of British Colonialism

Part 2. The Aftermath
5. The Legal Legacy: Twilight Before Dawn
6. Two Modern African Constitutions

Part 3. Looking Forward
7. Globalization: Doing It Right This Time Around

Selected Bibliography

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