Synopses & Reviews
As one of Africaand#8217;s few democracies, Senegal has long been thought of as a leader of moral, political, and economic development on the continent. We tend to assume that any such nation has achieved favorable international standing due to its own merits. In Forensics of Capital
, Michael Ralph upends this kind of conventional thinking, showing how Senegaland#8217;s diplomatic standing was strategically forged in the colonial and postcolonial eras at key periods of its history and is today entirely contingent on the consensus of wealthy and influential nations and international lending agencies.
Ralph examines Senegaland#8217;s crucial and pragmatic decisions related to its development and how they garnered international favor, decisions such as its opposition to Soviet involvement in African liberationand#151;despite itself being a socialist stateand#151;or its support for the US-led war on terrorand#151;despite its population being predominately Muslim. He shows how such actions have given Senegal an inflated political and economic position and status as a highly credit-worthy nation even as its domestic economy has faltered. Exploring these and many other aspects of Senegaland#8217;s political economy and its interface with the international community, Ralph demonstrates that the international reputation of any nationand#151;not just Senegaland#151;is based on deep structural biases.and#160;
and#8220;Forensics of Capitaland#160;is a top-notch intervention into several fields, ranging from African studies to anthropology to economic history. It effortlessly takes the reader along for a ride on the tangled history that has led to the current sovereign state of Senegal. But part of its ambitious theoretical contribution lies precisely here: by employing a novel argument about and#8216;forensic profiles,and#8217; Ralph ably shows thatand#160;allnation-states have a similarly tangled emergence.and#8221;
andnbsp;andldquo;Forensics of Capital uncovers new theoretical and ethnographic pathways that will have important implications for both African studies and anthropology scholarship. It draws from various sources and resources to identify critical moments, events, and key social actors; investigates issues of risk, liability, citizenship, sovereignty, leadership, historical injustices, violence, (un)employment, and displacement; and proposes an original cartography of the formation of modern Senegal. This bold, concise, and innovative book presents a compelling profile of the andlsquo;Senegal exception / success storyandrsquo; narrative based on a scrupulous and captivating probing of forensic anthropology in an African context by one of the most astute and versatile theorists.andrdquo;
andldquo;Forensics of Capitalandnbsp;takes you on a whirlwind tour of five hundred years of West African history to show how polities and markets have been made in the cauldron of an expanding world economy. Wolof merchants and French railroad builders, fifteenth-century Spanish kings and twenty-first-century American presidents, unemployed Dakar youth, and US military strategists all appear on Ralphandrsquo;s brilliantandnbsp;tableau vivant.andnbsp;They engage in petty violence, grand strategizing, infrastructure construction, and profit seeking, creating in the process a messy world of coercion and contract, of states and markets, that is at the very heart of modern capitalism.andrdquo;
This collection critically examines tolerance, secularism, and respect for religious diversity within a social and political system dominated by Sufi brotherhoods. Through a detailed analysis of Senegal's political economy, essays trace the genealogy and dynamic exchange among these concepts while investigating public spaces and political processes and their reciprocal engagement with the state, Sunni reformist and radical groups, and non-religious organizations.
Through a rich and nuanced historical ethnography of the formation of Senegalese democracy, this anthology illuminates the complex trajectory of the Senegalese state and its reflection of similar postcolonial societies. Offering rare perspectives on the country's successes since liberation, this collection identifies the role of religion, gender, culture, ethnicity, globalization, politics, and migration in the reconfiguration of the state and society, and it makes an important contribution to democratization theory, Islamic studies, and African studies. Scholars of comparative politics and religious studies will also appreciate the volume's treatment of Senegal as both an exceptional and universal example of postcolonial development.
About the Author
Michael Ralph is associateand#160;professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University.and#160;