Mobilization against apartheid, the campaign against blood diamonds, the women's movement in Liberia where Africa's first female head of state was elected in 2005: these are all examples of socially based movements that have had a major effect on Africa's recent history. Yet the most influential theories concerning social movements worldwide have paid little heed to Africa, basing themselves more often on cases drawn from other continents. This volume draws together contributions from some leading writers on social movements in Africa, setting empirical studies alongside a couple of theoretical chapters. Africa’s social movements have distinctive features that are related to the continent’s specific history.
The authors of this inter-disciplinary collection examine the role of space in six areas of West, Central and East Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They demonstrate the active quality of space and analyze the ways in which people have contested and shaped space, including responses to crises. In addition, a lengthy essay re-interprets tropical African history, 1800-1930, using spatial theory. Contributors look at how people have constructed mental maps, used discourse to organize territories, and perceived social landscapes. The studies employ a tri-level approach, one that moves from specific places to regions to macro-regional or transnational systems and back again. Authors draw upon written and oral sources to reconstruct the past and employ innovative mapping techniques to illustrate spatial dynamics.