By Patrick Chabal
During this ebook, Patrick Chabal discusses the constraints of present political theories of Africa and proposes a distinct start line; arguing that political considering should be pushed by means of the necessity to handle the immediacy of lifestyle and death. How do humans outline who they are? the place do they belong? What do they believe? How do they try to outlive and enhance their lives? what's the impression of disease and poverty? In doing so, Chabal proposes a noticeably diversified manner of politics in Africa and illuminates the methods traditional humans "suffer and smile." it is a hugely unique addition to Zed's groundbreaking international Political Theories sequence.
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Additional info for Africa: The Politics of Suffering and Smiling (World Political Theories)
This is important in itself if we are to understand the nature of the relationship between individual and society, and thereby the political context within which people live. But it is also important because it needs to serve as a warning against the simplifications of Western political theories that are based on the primacy of the acontextualised individual, with no regard to how the very concept of individual is problematic and simply cannot be taken for granted. It has often been remarked that in Africa the communal and local dimensions prevail over that of the individual.
Instead, I want to suggest that this is very much an area in which the questions asked actually do determine the answers. Historically, the colonial mindset subsumed virtually all issues of identity under the vague rubric of tribalism. This did not just influence how colonial governments behaved, it also had a profound impact on the ways in which Africans instrumentalised their identity in the colonial and post-colonial context. Anthropologists, though they were often seen to comfort the colonial officials’ equation of identity to tribe, were still likely to give a more refined account of how people viewed themselves.
However, it is clear that it applies differently in different types of society and the key is to try to tease out the political implications of distinct ways of being. The intention here is to highlight areas that are common to all African societies, even if it is evident that there are vast, and vastly relevant, distinctions to be made between individuals within each society and between different communities. I try to engage this issue by looking at three particular aspects of the question: origin, identity and locality.