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Africa in the World

Africa in the World

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Africa in the World
    Book Description:

    Of the many pathways out of empire, why did African leaders follow the one that led to the nation-state, whose dangers were recognized by Africans in the 1940s and 50s? Frederick Cooper revisits a long history in which Africans were empire-builders, the objects of colonization, and participants in events that gave rise to global capitalism.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-36930-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Maps
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    In 1946 W. E. B. Du Bois publishedThe World and Africa: An Inquiry into the Part which Africa Has Played in World History. He was recasting a book he had published in 1939, and the new circumstance gave added significance to his insistence that Africa’s part in world history was and would continue to be important. Europe was in a catastrophic state; colonial business as usual would not be resumed. Here was an opportunity for Africans to redefine their place in the world. But the main topic of his book was what Africa had brought to world history. Du...

  6. 1 Africa and Capitalism
    (pp. 11-37)

    Let us start out with Africa’s place in the evolution of the world economy. Much writing on wealth and poverty tries to explain Europe’s riches by virtue of its supposedly inherent characteristics: the scientific spirit, the Protestant ethic, openness to commerce, or a bent toward incremental technological innovation. Africa has served as a foil for such arguments: cultural predispositions that run against economic rationality, too strong kinship ties, weak notions of personal property, and—with twentieth and twenty-first century variations—a tendency toward personal, tyrannical, anti-entrepreneurial governance.¹

    The question of global economic divergence has been given a scholarly push out...

  7. 2 Africa and Empire
    (pp. 38-65)

    The idea of empire was configured in two ways in Du Bois’sThe World and Africa. He argued that Africans were perfectly capable of putting together large-scale, coherently organized polities. He wrote about the early African empires, from the Nile Valley to the great empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, and described the expansion of Asante into a vast state capable of ruling over diverse populations. He also examined the colonization of Africa by Europeans.

    Du Bois had read the best historical scholarship of his time on the early history of Africa—limited as it was—and he knew perfectly...

  8. 3 Africa and the Nation-State
    (pp. 66-89)

    From the Manchester Conference of 1945 through Du Bois’sThe World and Africaof 1946 and Aimé Césaire’sDiscours sur le colonialismeof 1950, the indictment of colonialism was strong and clear. Ideas for liberation were many. This chapter focuses on a particular set of African political actors in a particular context: French West Africa between 1945 and 1960.¹

    As late as 1960, most leaders in French West Africa were still seeking alternatives to both the colonialism of the past and what they feared would be the powerlessness of small, impoverished nation-states. They thought that inequality—in wealth and power—...

  9. Conclusion: Africa in the World, Past, Present, Future
    (pp. 90-102)

    When we make “Africa”—or “Senegal” or “Ghana”—the focus of our thinking about the actions of government or the possibilities of economic development, we take for granted that these are the necessary and proper units of analysis. Yet we are talking about categories whose very existence in human imagination is a product of history, indeed a history of connections across large spaces. It is not a history of particular regions following their unique vocations nor is it a history of interaction of political units equivalent to each other in form, military or economic power, or self-conception. To find some...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 103-124)
  11. Index
    (pp. 125-130)