Readings in Modernity in Africa

Readings in Modernity in Africa

Peter Geschiere, Birgit Meyer and Peter Pels
Distribution: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvado
Publication date: 12/17/2008
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-21996-1
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Questions surrounding modernity and its meanings weigh heavily on students and scholars who study Africa. Becoming modern carries a lot of different meanings and puts concepts of culture, tradition, and nation into uneasy use. Readings in Modernity in Africa brings together classic essays, old and new, to help assess the issues and problems of modernity in an African context. Questions include: How can we discuss modernity without lapsing into a Western-dominated view of history? How do we avoid losing sight of the diversity of local forms? How is it that modernity has such a powerful impact on African lives? This wide-ranging volume provides new perspectives and suggests alternatives for how a better future might be implemented in Africa and beyond.

Author Bio

Peter Geschiere is Professor of African Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam.

Birgit Meyer is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the Free University, Amsterdam.

Peter Pels is Professor of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Leiden.


“Few other books zero in on central questions to do with what we mean by 'modernity,' its multiple and bewildering manifestations in contemporary Africa, and the scholarly debates around the application of the concept to the non—Western world.”
 — Karin Barber, University of Birmingham

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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors
Sources and Acknowledgments
Introduction: Genealogies of Modernity in Africa, by Peter Geschiere, Birgit Meyer, and Peter Pels
Part 1. Genealogies of "Modernity" in Africa
Introduction to Part 1
A. From "Modernization" to "Modernity"
"Global Disconnect: Abjection and the Aftermath of Modernism," by James G. Ferguson
Excerpts from Modernization: Protest and Change, by S. N. Eisenstadt
"Fanti National Constitution: Administrative Questions," by John Mensah Sarbah
B. The Loss of Development's Meta-Narrative
The World Bank's Changing Discourse on Development: From Reliance on the State and "Modernizing Elites" to "Bypassing the State," collage from World Bank texts, 1972-1989
Excerpts from Anthropology and Development: Understanding Contemporary Social Change, by Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan
Excerpts from "Buying Futures": The Upsurge of Female Entrepreneurship—Crossing the Formal/Informal Divide in Southwest Cameroon, by Margaret Niger-Thomas
C. The Modern Production of Tradition
"Report of the Expedition Sent by the Government of Natal to Instal Cetywayo as King of the Zulus," by Theophilus Shepstone
"Ujamaa: The Basis of African Socialism," by Julius Kambarage Nyerere
"The African Renaissance, South Africa and the World," by Thabo Mbeki
"The Pidginization of Luguru Politics: Administrative Ethnography and the Paradoxes of Indirect Rule," by Peter Pels
"The Resurgence of Chiefs: Retribalism and Modernity in Post-1994 South Africa," by Lungisile Ntsebeza
"Chiefs! Law, Power, and Culture in Contemporary South Africa," by Barbara Oomen
D. Identity and Personhood in Africa
"The African Road to Socialism," by Leopold Sedar Senghor
"Society and Ideology," by Kwame Nkrumah
"African Identities," by Kwame Anthony Appiah
"Missionary Fact and Politics of the Belly: A Foucaultian Reading," by Jean-Francois Bayart