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Civil Society and the Political Imagination in Africa

Critical Perspectives

The essays in this important new collection explore the diverse, unexpected, and controversial ways in which the idea of civil society has recently entered into populist politics and public debate throughout Africa.

In a substantial introduction, anthropologists Jean and John Comaroff offer a critical theoretical analysis of the nature and deployment of the concept—and the current debates surrounding it. Building on this framework, the contributors investigate the "problem" of civil society across their regions of expertise, which cover the continent. Drawing creatively on one another’s work, they examine the impact of colonial ideology, postcoloniality, and development practice on discourses of civility, the workings of everyday politics, the construction of new modes of selfhood, and the pursuit of moral community.

Incisive and original, the book shows how struggles over civil society in Africa reveal much about larger historical forces in the post-Cold War era. It also makes a strong case for the contribution of historical anthropology to contemporary discourses on the rise of a "new world order."

329 pages | 8 halftones, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 1999

African Studies

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

History: African History

Political Science: Comparative Politics

Sociology: Individual, State and Society

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
John L. and Jean Comaroff
2. Practicing Citizenship in Imperial Paris
Gary Wilder
3. Developing Bushmen: Building Civil(ized) Society in the Kalahari and Beyond
Elizabeth Garland
4. Civil Society and Its Presuppositions: Lessons from Uganda
Mikael Karlström
5. Colonial Constructions- Historicizing Debates on Civil Society in Africa
William Cunningham Bissell
6. Stating Politisi: The Dialogues of Publicity and Secrecy in Sierra Leone
Mariane Ferme
7. Civil Lives: Leadership and Accomplishment in Botswana
Deborah Durham
8. Debating Muslims, Disputed Practices: Struggles for the Realization of an Alternative Moral Order in Niger
Adeline Masquelier
9. Curl Up and Dye: Civil Society and the Fashion-Minded Citizen
Amy Stambach
10. IBB= 419: Nigerian Democracy and the Politics of Illusion
Andrew Apter
List of Contributors

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