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Transforming Innovations in Africa

Explorative Studies on Appropriation in African Societies

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Edited by Jan-Bart Gewald, André Leliveld and Iva Peša

Africa abounds with examples of material and immaterial innovations that were envisaged, developed and designed elsewhere yet came to be innovatively and sometimes unexpectedly transformed in Africa. The authors in this volume explore how external innovations (products, technologies, services, institutions and processes) have been appropriated in African societies in order to be acceptable and relevant to local conditions, expectations and demands. Written from different disciplinary perspectives, the chapters demonstrate the depth and richness of innovation in Africa with, in some cases, surprising outcomes. The case studies presented are on subjects as diverse as the wine industry, trading stores, land reforms, washing powder, M-Pesa, cassava, weddings, international borders, guest houses, urban water supply, car technology, shallow wells, and railways and blacksmithing.

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Abbas Gnamo

This work examines the philosophical origins of Oromo egalitarian and democratic thoughts and practice, the Gadaa-Qaalluu system, kinship organization, the introduction and spread of Islam and the consequent socio-cultural change. It sheds light on the advent of the Ethiopian empire under Menelik II, its conquests and Arsi Oromo fierce resistance (1880-1900), the nature and legacy of Ethiopian imperial polity, centre-periphery relations, feudal political economy and its impacts on the newly conquered regions with a focus on Arsi Oromo country. The book also analyzes the root causes of the national political crisis including, but not limited to, the attempts at transforming the empire-state to a nation-state around a single culture, contested definition of national identity and state legitimacy, grievance narratives, uprisings, the birth and development of competing nationalisms as well as the limitations of the current ethnic federalism to address the national question in Ethiopia.

COSATU'S Contested Legacy

South African Trade Unions in the Second Decade of Democracy

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Edited by Sakhela Buhlungu and Malehoko Tshoaedi

COSATU's Contested Legacy provides a fresh and up-to-date analysis of trade unionism in contemporary South Africa by focusing on the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the largest and most powerful federation. Drawing on quantitative data from four time series surveys of union members over a period of sixteen years, the authors present rigorous and authoritative analyses that shed light on the dilemmas and opportunities facing trade unionism today. The volume shows how various sections of the trade union movement grapple with these dilemmas and contest with one another to chart a future trajectory for trade unionism.

States at Work

Dynamics of African Bureaucracies

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Edited by Thomas Bierschenk and Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan

States at Work explores the mundane practices of state-making in Africa by focussing on the daily functioning of public services and the practices of civil servants. Adopting mainly an ethnographic approach as a basis for theorizing, the authors deal with topics including: bureaucratic cultures and practical norms, operational routines in offices, career patterns and modes of appointment; how bureaucrats themselves perceive and deliver goods and services and interact with service users; the accumulation of public administration reforms and how the different bureaucratic corps react to the ‘good governance’ discourse and new public management policies; the consequences of these reforms for the daily working of state bureaucracies and for the civil servants’ identities and modes of accountability; and the space that exists for bottom-up micro-reforms that build on local innovations or informal arrangements.