Africa: The Politics of Suffering and Smiling (World by Patrick Chabal

By Patrick Chabal

The query frequently requested approximately Africa is: 'why is it going wrong?' Is the continent nonetheless struggling with the ravages of colonialism? Or is it the sufferer of postcolonial monetary exploitation, bad governance and absence of reduction? regardless of the solution, more and more the result's poverty and violence.

In Africa: the Politics of ache and Smiling Patrick Chabal ways this question otherwise by way of reconsidering the position of concept in African politics. Chabal discusses the restrictions of present political theories of Africa and proposes a distinct place to begin; arguing that political pondering should be pushed by way of the necessity to deal with the immediacy of way of life and loss of life. How do humans outline who they're? the place do they belong? What do they suspect? How do they fight to outlive and increase their lives? what's the effect of ailment and poverty? In doing so, Chabal proposes a greatly diverse method of politics in Africa and illuminates the methods traditional humans 'suffer and smile'.

This is a hugely unique addition to Zed's groundbreaking global Political Theories series.

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Sample text

It is customary in political science to construct analysis on the assumption that society is made of discrete units: individuals who have organised themselves to distribute and regulate power. This is a reasonable assumption but, on reflection, a very crude one. What in practice ‘individual’ and ‘society’ are, is not straightforward, being  and this is for two reasons. The first is that the actual definition of each depends on the relationship between the two: individuals are members of a particular society; societies are composed of particular individuals.

However, these are rare refinements of what remains a very crude and essentialising approach to the study of African identity. Moreover, the situation has been made worse by the huge, and ever growing, literature on conflict, which has often merely presumed that ethnicity was the key cause of violence. Historically, ethnicity was a hybrid category, encompassing a range of social, cultural and economic markers. These were aggregated in different ways at different times. Not only was the notion of what it meant to belong to a particular ethnic group fluid but the criteria of appurtenance themselves could shift and evolve.

However, there is little doubt in my mind that ‘being’ and ‘belonging’ are two sides of the same coin, as it were, and that it would be pointless to try to discuss one without the other. Indeed, what ‘being’ is perceived to be cannot be dissociated from what ‘belonging’ in practice is. Similarly, as should be obvious, the three categories below are also interlinked and overlapping. Origin The literature on African politics pays very little attention to this question other than in terms of ethnicity.

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