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Civil Society and the Political Imagination in Africa: Critical Perspectivesby John L. Camaroff
Synopses & Reviews
The essays in this important new collection explore the diverse, unexpected, and controversial ways in which the idea of civil society has recently entered into populist politics and public debate throughout Africa.
In a substantial introduction, anthropologists Jean and John Comaroff offer a critical theoretical analysis of the nature and deployment of the conceptand#8212;and the current debates surrounding it. Building on this framework, the contributors investigate the "problem" of civil society across their regions of expertise, which cover the continent. Drawing creatively on one another's work, they examine the impact of colonial ideology, postcoloniality, and development practice on discourses of civility, the workings of everyday politics, the construction of new modes of selfhood, and the pursuit of moral community.
Incisive and original, the book shows how struggles over civil society in Africa reveal much about larger historical forces in the post-Cold War era. It also makes a strong case for the contribution of historical anthropology to contemporary discourses on the rise of a "new world order."
Book News Annotation:
In spite of critical statements like V<'a>clav Havel's, that an age calling for civil society is also one risking a "new totalitarianism of consumption, commerce, and money," the notion of civil society continues to function as an important call-to-arms for democratic reform. This anthology explores the controversial ways in which the idea of civil society has recently entered into populist politics and public debate throughout Africa. Ten essays by scholars primarily in anthropology examine the impact of colonial ideology, postcoloniality, and third-world development practices on discourses of civility, also investigating the workings of everyday politics, constructions of new modes of selfhood, and the pursuit of a moral community.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Preface1. IntroductionJohn L. and Jean Comaroff2. Practicing Citizenship in Imperial ParisGary Wilder3. Developing Bushmen: Building Civil(ized) Society in the Kalahari and BeyondElizabeth Garland4. Civil Society and Its Presuppositions: Lessons from UgandaMikael Karlstrom5. Colonial Constructions- Historicizing Debates on Civil Society in AfricaWilliam Cunningham Bissell6. Stating Politisi: The Dialogues of Publicity and Secrecy in Sierra LeoneMariane Ferme7. Civil Lives: Leadership and Accomplishment in BotswanaDeborah Durham8. Debating Muslims, Disputed Practices: Struggles for the Realization of an Alternative Moral Order in NigerAdeline Masquelier9. Curl Up and Dye: Civil Society and the Fashion-Minded CitizenAmy Stambach10. IBB= 419: Nigerian Democracy and the Politics of IllusionAndrew ApterList of ContributorsIndex
About the Author
Jean Comaroffand#160;is the Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology and director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory at the University of Chicago. John L. Comaroff is the Harold W. Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago and a senior research fellow at the American Bar Foundation. Both are also honorary professors at the University of Cape Town.
Table of Contents
John L. and Jean Comaroff
2. Practicing Citizenship in Imperial Paris
3. Developing Bushmen: Building Civil(ized) Society in the Kalahari and Beyond
4. Civil Society and Its Presuppositions: Lessons from Uganda
5. Colonial Constructions- Historicizing Debates on Civil Society in Africa
William Cunningham Bissell
6. Stating Politisi: The Dialogues of Publicity and Secrecy in Sierra Leone
7. Civil Lives: Leadership and Accomplishment in Botswana
8. Debating Muslims, Disputed Practices: Struggles for the Realization of an Alternative Moral Order in Niger
9. Curl Up and Dye: Civil Society and the Fashion-Minded Citizen
10. IBB= 419: Nigerian Democracy and the Politics of Illusion
List of Contributors
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History and Social Science » Africa » General