This collection of articles aims to stimulate the exploration of African initiative and creativity and to go beyond immediate socio-economic and political circumstances by analyzing those initiatives that offer alternatives to the prevailing paradigms. It moves away from African ‘victimhood’ by stressing African ‘agency’ and by demonstrating that societies in Africa have always showed the ability to negotiate whatever constraining ecological, economic and political circumstances they faced. This is further detailed in the context of the literary contest between local and global; of issues of land rights and property; of livelihoods and poverty; of the popular culture; of demystifying African migrations; the changing parameters of territoriality; and the dynamics of the tourist encounter.
Patrick Chabal, who trained in political science at Harvard, Columbia and Cambridge universities, is Professor at the University of London (King's College London). His latest book, co-authored with Jean-Pascal Daloz, is: Culture Troubles: politics and the interpretation of meaning (2006). Ulf Engel, Dr. phil. (1993) and habilitation (1999) in political science, University of Hamburg, is Professor of Politics in Africa at the University of Leipzig. He has published on African politics, the continent's international relations and conflict prevention / peace-building.
Leo de Haan is geographer by training and published widely on African livelihoods. He directed research at universities if Amsterdam and Nijmegen and is currently director of the African Studies Centre Leiden and professor in African development.
Introduction Patrick Chabal, Ulf Engel and Leo de Haan Social and Historical Trajectories of Agency in Africa Mirjam de Bruijn, Rijk van Dijk and Jan-Bart Gewald On the Powers and Limits of Literature Alain Ricard Land and the Politics of Belonging in Africa Carola Lentz Studies in African Livelihoods: Current Issues and Future Prospects Leo de Haan Politics, Popular Culture and Livelihood Strategies among Young Men in a Nairobi Slum Bodil Folke Frederiksen African Migrations: Continuities, Discontinuities and Recent Transformations Oliver Bakewell and Hein de Haas Migration as Reterritorialization: Migrant Movement, Sovereignty and Authority in Contemporary Southern Africa Scarlett Cornelissen Approaching African Tourism: Paradigms and Paradoxes Walter van Beek List of Contributors
Advanced students and scholars with an interest in contemporary Africa, the question of agency and Africa's political, economic, social and cultural perspectives.