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Author: Sabina Widmer
In Switzerland and Sub-Saharan Africa in the Cold War, 1967-1979, Sabina Widmer analyses Swiss foreign policy in Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Somalia in the late 1960s and 1970s, at the crossroads of the global East-West confrontation and decolonisation. Focusing on the independence wars in Angola and Mozambique, the Angolan War and the Ogaden War as well as regime changes that brought Soviet-allied governments to power, this book sheds new light on Switzerland’s role in the Third World during the Cold War. Based on extensive multi-archival research, it exposes the limits of neutrality in North-South relations, reveals the growing marge de manoeuvre of small states during Détente, and highlights the role of non-state actors in the making of foreign policy.
A Companion to Islamic Granada gathers, for the first time in English, a number of essays exploring aspects of the Islamic history of this city from the 8th through the 15th centuries from an interdisciplinary perspective. This collective volume examines the political development of Medieval Gharnāṭa under the rule of different dynasties, drawing on both historiographical and archaeological sources. It also analyses the complexity of its religious and multicultural society, as well as its economic, scientific, and intellectual life. The volume also transcends the year 1492, analysing the development of both the mudejar and the morisco populations and their contribution to Grenadian culture and architecture up to the 17th century.

Contributors are: Bárbara Boloix-Gallardo, María Jesús Viguera-Molíns, Alberto García-Porras, Antonio Malpica–Cuello, Bilal Sarr-Marroco, Allen Fromherz, Bernard Vincent, Maribel Fierro–Bello, Mª Luisa Ávila–Navarro, Juan Pedro Monferrer–Sala, José Martínez–Delgado, Luis Bernabé–Pons, Adela Fábregas–García, Josef Ženka, Amalia Zomeño–Rodríguez, Delfina Serrano–Ruano, Julio Samsó–Moya, Celia del Moral-Molina, José Miguel Puerta–Vílchez, Antonio Orihuela–Uzal, Ieva Rėklaitytė, and Rafael López–Guzmán.
Most medieval historians have explained the ‘civil wars’ in Scandinavia in the 12th and 13th centuries as internal conflicts within a predominantly national and implicitly state-centered politico-constitutional framework. This book argues that the conflicts during this period should be viewed as less disruptive, less internal and less state-centered than in previous research. It does so through six articles comparing the civil wars in Scandinavia with civil wars in Afghanistan and Guinea-Bissau in the last decades, applying theories and perspectives from anthropology and political science. Finally, four articles discuss civil wars in a broader perspective.

Contributors are Ebrahim Afsah, Gerd Althoff, Jenny Benham, John Comaroff, Hans Jacob Orning, Frederik Rosén, Jón Viðar Sigurðsson, Henrik Vigh, Helle Vogt, Stephen D. White, and Øyvind Østerud.
Volume Editors: Felipe Rojas and Peter E. Thompson
In ten essays authored by an international team of scholars, this volume explores queer readings of Western and Eastern Mediterranean Europe, Northern Africa, Islam and Arabic traditions. The contributors enter into a dialogue, comparing cases from opposite sides of the Mediterranean, in order to analyze the forgotten exchange of sexualities that was brought forth through the Mediterranean and its bordering landmasses during the Middle Ages.
This collection questions the hypothesis that distinct cultures treated sexuality and the “other” differently. The volume initiates the conversation around queerness and sexuality on these trade routes, and problematizes the differences between various Mediterranean cultures in order to argue that through both queerness and sexuality, neighboring civilizations had access to, and knowledge of, common shared experiences.

Contributors are Sahar Amer, Israel Burshatin, Robert L.A. Clark, Denise K. Filos, Ellen Lorraine Friedrich, Edmund Hayes, Gregory S. Hutcheson, Vicente Lledó-Guillem, Leyla Rouhi, and Robert S. Sturges.
Contemporary Africa as a Centre of Global Encounter
This work challenges received ideas of Africa as a marginal continent and place of exodus by considering the continent as a centre of global connectivity and confluence. Flows of people, goods, and investments towards Africa have increased and diversified over recent decades. In light of these changes, the contributions analyse new actors in such diverse fields as education, trade, infrastructure, and tourism. They show the historicity of many current mobilities towards Africa and investigate questions of agency and power in shaping encounters between Africans and others in Africa today. In this way, the volume contributes significantly to debates on Africa’s position in global mobility dynamics and provides a firm basis for further research.

Contributors are: Gérard Amougou, Alice Aterianus-Owanga, Eric Burton, Jean-Frédéric de Hasque, Mayke Kaag, Guive Khan-Mohammad, Fabien Nkot, Miriam Adelina Ocadiz Arriaga, Ute Röschenthaler, Alexandra Samokhvalova, Stefan Schmid, Sophia Thubauville, Di Wu.
Author: Melvin E. Page

Abstract

Asking the question, “Is there a common African military tradition?” leads to consideration of the all too readily accepted tripartite periodization of African history as precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial. Does such a model sufficiently encompass African agency and actions? Or instead—being keyed to the colonial moment in the African past—might it privilege institutions of a decidedly European character? As an alternative, this essay suggests examining Africa’s military tradition around four alternatively defined analytical touchstones, each built upon exemplars of indigenous African activity. It argues that using such a “new lens” offers an opportunity to consider if there are not a variety of African military traditions, rather than an over-generalized system of supposed military values historically common to all African soldiers.

In: Journal of African Military History

Abstract

The battle of Sandfontein November 26, 1914 marked the fledgeling Union Defence Force’s first defeat. Historians have used this long-forgotten battle as a lens to view the divisive political and military aspects of the Union’s early history. Unfortunately, some of their scholarship has passed through a distorted lens. Official histories were the first to obfuscate military and leadership shortcomings and interfere with the operational context surrounding Sandfontein. Theirs was for political reasons—a mission to protect delicate reputations and mollify a divided population. Historians have erroneously assumed that General J.C. Smuts’ initial plan for the invasion of German South West Africa 1914 was modified to exclude Walvis Bay/Swakopmund’s occupation. Instead, delays in occupying Walvis Bay/Swakopmund placed the UDF’s forces at Lüderitzbucht in a precarious position. Sandfontein, a desperate attempt to distract the Schutztruppe, was an operational failure, rather than the tactical faux pas portrayed by historians.

In: Journal of African Military History

Abstract

The Kribi Deep Seaport Construction Project is carried out among three contending forces—namely, the government’s desire to own the project, the constant threat of extraversion, and the weak coherence of local institutional bodies. In fact, the slow advent of this project indicates how development policies have unfolded in Cameroon over time. Similarly, making it operational has revealed the dominance of Chinese business operators who are at the centre of a plethora of partnerships elicited by the port. The government’s desire to appropriate the development agenda shows its ability to cunningly navigate in its dealings with various foreign partners; however, its avowed developmental ambition is thwarted by internal bottlenecks, which in the long run affect the agency of national and local actors.

In: Destination Africa

Abstract

Since the turn of the century, the African continent has become a privileged destination for Chinese companies. In search of new commercial outlets to escape cut-throat competition in the domestic Chinese market, they are taking to the continent in droves, looking to thrive in the African economic landscape. While this situation has led to heightened competition in African markets, it is not always to the advantage of Chinese companies. Previous research in the field has taken the strength of Chinese companies for granted and has denounced the ‘unfair competition’ such companies bring to their African counterparts. This chapter, however, intends to emphasise the difficulties Chinese companies in Africa have faced when settling in the continent, as well as the fragility of their eventual success. To this end, it will focus on a case study of the motorcycle sector in Burkina Faso. This sector is predominantly dominated by African entrepreneurs, and Chinese companies struggle to make their mark. As a result, the companies must compromise and collaborate with local business communities and circles of power if they want to find success. By analysing the relationships between Chinese companies and their African intermediaries, this chapter aims to highlight the ability of African economic and political elites to take advantage of the Chinese presence. As such, this reveals the modalities of this contemporary redeployment of extraversion strategies in a context marked by Africa’s unprecedented exposure to globalisation.

In: Destination Africa
In: Destination Africa