Economic and Political Reform in Africa

Economic and Political Reform in Africa

Anthropological Perspectives
Peter D. Little
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/20/2013
ISBN: 978-0-253-01093-3
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What are the local effects of major economic and political reforms in Africa? How have globalized pro-market and pro-democracy reforms impacted local economics and communities? Examining case studies from The Gambia, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, Peter D. Little shows how rural farmers and others respond to complex agendas of governments, development agencies, and non-governmental organizations. The book explores the contradictions between what policy reforms were supposed to do and what actually happened in local communities. Little’s bold vision of development challenges common narratives of African poverty, dependency, and environmental degradation and suggests that sustainable development in Africa can best be achieved by strengthening local livelihoods, markets, and institutions.

Author Bio

Peter D. Little is Professor and Chair of Anthropology and Director of the Program in Development Studies at Emory University.


“Brings sophisticated ethnographic attention to the 'unexpected changes and contradictions' within the gaps and spaces opened up by the 'reforms' of the past twenty years. It is a uniquely detailed empirical account of many activities, in many places, with varied international, national and local participants, all engaging at the interface of the terms of 'reform' and the lives and development prospects of the people.”
 — Jane Guyer, Johns Hopkins University

“Simply put, it's the most daring book I have read on African development.”
 — Abdi I. Samatar, University of Minnesota

“This is a rich, informative book on extremely complicated processes in Africa. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“Economic and Political Reform in Africa is a fascinating and wide ranging treatment of neoliberal development policy in sub-Saharan Africa. This text should be required reading for anybody interested in African development, and would be of significant interest to anybody interested in neoliberal development in post-colonial settings. ”
 — African Studies Bulletin

“Political and Economic Reform in Africa is a sharp and insightful book, offering the reader firsthand knowledge of the effects of neoliberal policies and donor-initiated development on rural farming and herding populations on the ground. The book’s examples are rich and detailed, and would well serve university courses in development and rural economy, but also in agencies carrying out development.”
 — African Studies Review

“This book is well written and the narratives are enlightening. It should be recommended reading for students of African development.”
 — International Social Science Review

“The achievements in this book are multiple. Its diversity of ethnographic settings and field techniques, its historical depth, the bold injection of new ideas for the study of pastoralism, and the clear scope for comparative analysis all converge to bring home the message that encounters with neoliberalism must be described and analyzed in nuanced, site-specific contexts. The book will be a compelling read for anthropologists and development practitioners, including those less familiar with the African continent. The book's long gestation was worth the wait.”
 — American Anthropologist

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Table of Contents

Introduction: What it means to be "Reformed?"
1. ‘They Think We Can Manufacture Crops:’ Contract Farming and the Non-Traditional Commodity Business
2. ‘Everybody is a Petty Trader:’ Peri-Urban Trade in Post-Conflict Maputo, Mozambique
3. ‘We Now Milk Elephants:’ The Community Conservation Business in Rural Kenya
4. ‘They are Beating Us Over the Head with Democracy:’ Multi-Party Elections in Rural Kenya
5. ‘The Government is always telling us what to think:’ Narratives of food aid dependence in rural Ethiopia
6. ‘Counting the poor:’ The politics of pastoralist poverty assessments in Kenya
7. ‘A sort of free business:’ Stateless Somalia and a hyper-liberalized economy
Conclusions: Rethinking encounters and reformist narratives