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Annette Joseph-Gabriel. Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire
2019, University of Illinois Press
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Publisher’s Note: Black women living in the French empire played a key role in the decolonial movements of the mid-twentieth century. Thinkers and activists, these women lived lives of commitment and risk that landed them in war zones and concentration camps and saw them declared enemies of the state. Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel mines published writings and untapped archives to reveal the anticolonialist endeavors of seven women. Though often overlooked today, Suzanne Césaire, Paulette Nardal, Eugénie Éboué-Tell, Jane Vialle, Andrée Blouin, Aoua Kéita, and Eslanda Robeson took part in a forceful transnational movement. Their activism and thought challenged France's imperial system by shaping forms of citizenship that encouraged multiple cultural and racial identities. Expanding the possibilities of belonging beyond national and even Francophone borders, these women imagined new pan-African and pan-Caribbean identities informed by black feminist intellectual frameworks and practices. The visions they articulated also shifted the idea of citizenship itself, replacing a single form of collective identity and political participation with an expansive plurality of forms of belonging.

Comment: Useful for discussing concepts of citizenship and belonging in the decolonial movements of the mid-twentieth century. Prior knowledge of these themes is required for an in-depth discussion of the book. However individual chapters can constitute a good starting point for questions of gender, race, and postcolonialism without prior advanced knowledge.

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Anyidoho, Nana Akua. Women, Gender and Development in Africa
2020, The Palgrave Handbook of African Women's Studies
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Abstract: Gender denotes the social prescriptions associated with biological sex in regard to roles, behaviour, appearance, cognition, emotions, and so on. Social relations of gender or gender relations encompass all relationships in which gender subjectivities play a role, including those among people, and between people and the institutions, systems, and processes of development. The chapter describes three features of gender relations that are generally consistent across societies – gender ideologies and mythsgendered division of labor; and unequal power relationships – and discusses their implications for development. The chapter further explains the centrality of gender to the development enterprise and discusses various approaches to integrating gender analysis in development processes.

Comment: Overview of three features of gender relations: ideologies and myths, gendered division of labor, unequal power relationships. Explains why subjectivity and social and historical context matter in gender development and interventions with Africa as Global South example.

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Faleye, Olukayode A.. Border Securitisation and Politics of State Policy in Nigeria, 2014–2017
2019, Insight on Africa, 11(1), pp. 78–93.
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Abstract:

This article examines the politics of public policies characterised by increased securitisation of Nigeria’s national boundary from 2014 to 2017. While the regulation appears on paper to discourage transborder crime, capital outflow and sustain a favourable balance of payment, the existing armoury of West African border literature argues otherwise. What is new in the transborder dynamics of West Africa? What informs government’s border policies in Nigeria? In answering these questions, this study provides a template for a reassessment of the gap between borderlands theory and policy in West Africa. The approach is comparative based on the critical analysis of oral interviews, government trade records, newspaper reports and the extant literature. The article provides a platform for rethinking of the nexus between governance and development in West Africa from the securitisation and neo-patrimonial perspectives. It concludes that effective border management in Nigeria is set aback by misguided and dysfunctional elitist-centred regulations that are devoid of the realities on the ground.

Comment: The article shows that the Nigerian border security policy under the years of study, 2014-17, was vacuity of regulations driven by neo-patrimonial politics embedded in clientelism and patronage. The article proposes regionalism based on economic and political functional areas as an antidote to the crisis of the state in West Africa. It can be used in debates on securitisation and militarisation, particularly in the face of terrorism.

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Jennifer Anne Boittin. Colonial Metropolis: The Urban Grounds of Anti-Imperialism and Feminism in Interwar Paris
2010, University of Nebraska Press
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Publisher’s Note: World War I gave colonial migrants and French women unprecedented access to the workplaces and nightlife of Paris. After the war they were expected to return without protest to their homes—either overseas or metropolitan. Neither group, however, was willing to be discarded. Between the world wars, the mesmerizing capital of France’s colonial empire attracted denizens from Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. Paris became not merely their home but also a site for political engagement. Colonial Metropolis tells the story of the interactions and connections of these black colonial migrants and white feminists in the social, cultural, and political world of interwar Paris. It explores why and how both were denied certain rights, such as the vote, how they suffered from sensationalist depictions in popular culture, and how they pursued parity in ways that were often interpreted as politically subversive.

Comment: This book uses a wide variety of sources and methods to discuss the social, political, and cultural history of the French Empire. Prior but limited knowledge of interwar Paris is necessary. Can be used as both an introduction to themes of colonial empire and race and an introduction to new methods of archival research.

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Larémont, Ricardo. Climate Change and Conflict in the Western Sahel
2021, African Studies Review, 64(4), pp. 748–759.
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Abstract: The states of the western Sahel (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and northern Nigeria) are politically quite fragile. Recent severe changes in climate are accelerating conflict and violence in an already economically desperate region, causing increased skirmishes between pastoralists and farmers, while depleting water resources and encouraging many to migrate either within the region or to North Africa. This article provides a commentary on the increasing levels of violent conflicts in the Western Sahel. Larémont explains the role of climate change, jihadist groups and the failing role of the state. It further critically analyses the interference of Western countries in this region.

Comment: Connects climate change to violent conflict in the Western Sahel. Good for interdisciplinary teaching in history, conflict studies and climate change, particularly the socio-political effects of climate change.

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Manu-Osafo, Manuel J. ‘The Days of their Heedless Power Were Over and Done’: Dynamics of Power in the Military Structures of the Precolonial Asante State, 1874–1900
2021, Manu-Osafo, M. J. (2021) “‘the Days of Their Heedless Power Were Over and Done’: Dynamics of Power in the Military Structures of the Precolonial Asante State, 1874–1900,” The Journal of African History, 62(2), pp. 254–270. doi: 10.1017/S0021853721000281.
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Abstract:

The British surprisingly faced no military resistance when they captured Asante in 1896. Previous works have focused on the agency of actors like Prempe and Frederick Hodgson to explain why. This paper, in contrast, approaches this epoch in Asante history from the context of the sociopolitical power structure within which the precolonial Asante state operated. It asserts that Asante's independence was contingent on having a strong military. But since it had no standing army, the state used Asante's ‘social contract’ to coerce its subjects into ad hoc armies to meet military threats. Starting from the 1874 Sagrenti War, however, the state disregarded the social contract. This unleashed a series of events that undermined the state's power to coerce Asantes into military service. The article posits further that this erosion of the state's coercive power ultimately prevented it from countering the British with armed resistance in 1896 to maintain independence.

Comment: This paper offers another interpretation of how colonial rule was imposed in the Asante Empire. Despite its military strength, the Empire submitted to the British in 1896. Using a version of Social Contract Theory, the author accounts for how the Asante state was, over time, undermined, which weakened its military. It is an easy paper to read, however the terms are very specific and niche to pre-colonial West Africa and requires a previous knowledge of the Asante Empire and its associated figures, such as Asantehene Prempe.

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Obi, Cyril. Nigeria’s foreign policy and transnational security challenges in West Africa
2008, Journal of Contemporary African Studies Vol.26, No.2, April 2008, 183-196
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, Contributed by: Atanas Malakchiev
Abstract:

This article explores how Nigeria's foreign policy has responded to transnational security challenges in West Africa. It engages in a conceptual overview of the discourse on transnational security and links this with a discussion of Nigeria's foreign policy towards West Africa. Of note is Nigeria's pursuit of a leadership role in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in its quest for security, economic integration and development. Several questions are posed: What do Nigerian policymakers consider to be the most significant transnational threats in West Africa? How and through what legitimate policies and instruments do they respond to such threats? How important is ECOWAS to Nigeria's attempt to respond to transnational threats? And how effective have Nigeria's attempts to influence the ECOWAS agenda in this regard been? Although ECOWAS has remained central to Nigeria's responses to transnational security threats in the subregion, the country has not been able to match its rhetoric on addressing transnational security threats with far-reaching concrete achievements. It is suggested that social transformation of Nigeria's current foreign policy (that is, to one focused and committed to putting people at its centre) and a change in the policies of dominant global powers towards West Africa would enhance human emancipation and eliminate the numerous insecurities confronting the peoples of the subregion.

Comment: The text offers an overview of security threats in West Africa and the ways that Nigeria has tried to address them using the mechanisms provided by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Nigeria has sought a leadership role in this organization through economic and military aid to its members. The article can be used to illustrate the ways that a country can pursue its foreign policy through multilateral organizations such as ECOWAS.

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Sackeyfio-Lenoch, Naaborko. The Ghana Trades Union Congress and the Politics of International Labor Alliances, 1957–1971*
2017, Sackeyfio-Lenoch, N. (2017) “The Ghana Trades Union Congress and the Politics of International Labor Alliances, 1957-1971*,” International Review of Social History, 62(2), pp. 191–213. doi: 10.1017/S0020859017000189.
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This article explores the motives of Ghana’s Trades Union Congress in
securing development assistance during the era of decolonization and early independence. African interests and agency in these complex processes of negotiation have not been sufficiently untangled to highlight the decisions that African trade unionists made as they aligned with, and fostered, international networks and alliances to meet particular development goals. By highlighting the perspectives and actions of Ghana’s trade union officials, the article demonstrates what Africans sought to achieve through connections to international trade union organizations. The Ghana case illustrates the ways in which African trade unionists actively engaged in the variable and competing politics and policies of local, regional, and global trade unionism in order to strengthen their union apparatus and meet shifting needs.

Comment: This article shows how a trade union functioned in sub-Saharan Africa’s first country to gain its independence from British colonial rule, and demonstrates how trade union diplomacy emerged as an important element of African national and international politics during the era of decolonisation. Through the lens of African labor interests and the actions of the Ghana Trade Union Congress, the article engages with the confluence of internationalism and decolonisation in post-independence African societies.

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