Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History and Representation / Edition 1

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The second edition of Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History, and Representation is both an introduction to the cultures of Africa and a history of the interpretations of those cultures. Key essays explore the major issues and debates through a combination of classic articles and the newest research in the field.

  • Explores the dynamic processes by and through which scholars have described and understood African history and culture
  • Includes selections from anthropologists, historians, philosophers, and critics who collectively reveal the interpenetration of ideas and concepts within and across disciplines, regions, and historical periods
  • Offers a combined focus on ethnography and theory, giving students the means to link theory with data and perspective with practice
  • Newly revised and updated edition of this popular text with 14 brand new chapters and two new sections: Conflict and Violent Transformations; and Development, Governance and Globalization
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


"Here is an excellent anthology that illustrates magnificently processes of Africa's invention, the complexity of her cultures, the paradoxes and predicament of discourses that claim to render her being." V. Y. Mudimbe Stanford University.

"A volume for all students and teachers seriously interested in understanding the unity and diversity of African cultures, and engaging in a dialogue with African Studies literary ancestors and their creative and critical successors. Grinker and Steiner have offered a doorway for those who dare to embrace the masters of the field and join new academic worlds in the making." Sulayman S. Nyang, Professor, Howard University and Director of the African Voices Project, Smithsonian Institute.

"Perspectives on Africa is a much needed addition to African studies and literature. They attempt, quite successfully, to place each article within, not only an historical time frame, but also within a theoretical progression. Its bibliographies contain a useful starting point and reference on all the major trends and subjects." Sean Pratt, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557866868
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/28/1997
  • Series: Global Perspectives Series, #2
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 772
  • Product dimensions: 6.78 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Roy Richard Grinker, Ph.D. is Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at George Washington University, Director of the GW Institute for Ethnographic Research, and Editor-in-Chief of Anthropological Quarterly.  He is author of four other books, including In the Arms of Africa: The Life of Colin M. Turnbull, Houses in the Rainforest:  Ethnicity and Inequality Among Farmers and Foragers in Central Africa, and Unstrange Minds:  Remapping the World of Autism.

Christopher B. Steiner is the Lucy C. McDannel ’22 Professor of Art History and Director of Museum Studies at Connecticut College.  He is the author of the award-winning book African Art in Transit, and co-editor (with Ruth Phillips) of Unpacking Culture:  Art and Commodity in Colonial and Postcolonial Worlds

Stephen Lubkemann is Associate Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at George Washington University.  He is author of Culture in Chaos: An Anthropology of the Social Condition in War and is associate editor for Anthropological Quarterly and a co-founder of GWU’s Diaspora Research Program.

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Table of Contents


List of Maps

List of Figures

List of Plates

List of Tables

Introduction: Africa in Perspective 1

Part I Representation and Discourse 19

Introduction 21

1 Africa Observed: Discoursed of the Imperial Imagination John Comaroff Comaroff, John 44

2 The Meaning of Our Work Cheikh Anta Diop Diop, Cheikh Anta 44

3 Europe Upside Down: Fallacies of the New Afrocentrism Kwame Anthony Appiah Appiah, Kwame Anthony 48

4 Discourse of Power and Knowledge of Otherness V.Y. Mudimbe Mudimbe, V. Y. 55

Part II From Tribe to Ethnicity: Kinship and Social Organization 61

Introduction 63

5 The Nuer: Time and Space E. E. Evans-Pritchard Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 71

6 The Illusion of Tribe Aidan W. Southhall Southhall, Aidan W. 83

7 Ethnicity in Southern African History Leroy Vail Vail, Leroy 95

Part III Economics as a Cultural System 109

Introduction 111

8 Lele Economy Compared with the Bushong Mary Douglas Douglas, Mary 123

9 Research on an African Mode of Production Catherine Conquery-Vidrovitch Conquery-Vidrovitch, Catherine 139

10 The Cattle of Money and the Cattle of Girls among the Nuer, 1930-83 Sharon Hutchinson Hutchinson, Sharon 151

Part IV Hunter-Gatherers in Africa 167

Introduction 169

11 The Lesson of the Pygmies Colin M. Turnbull Turnbull, Colin M. 175

12 Houses in the Rainforest: Gender and Ethnicity among the Lese and Efe in Zaire Roy Richard Grinker Grinker, Roy Richard 184

13 Land Filled with Flies: The Evolution of Illusion Edwin N. Wilmsen Wilmsen, Edwin N. 200

14 Foragers, Genuine or Spurious? Situating the Kalahari San in History Richard B. Lee Lee, Richard B. 219

Part V Witchcraft, Science, and Rationality: The Translation of Culture 237

Introduction 239

15 Conversations on Rain-making David Livingstone Livingstone, David 245

16 The Notion of Witchcraft Explains Unfortunate Events E. E. Evans-Pritchard Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 249

17 Understanding a Primitive Society Peter Winch Winch, Peter 257

18 The Moral Economy of Witchcraft: An Essay in Comparative History Ralph A. Austen Austen, Ralph A. 270

Part VI Ancestors, Gods, and the Philosophy of Religion 283

Introduction 285

19 Conversations with Ogotemmeli Marcel Griaule Griaule, Marcel 291

20 African Philosophy, Myth and Reality Paulin J. Hountondji Hountondji, Paulin J. 302

21 Ancestors as Elders in Africa Igor Kopytoff Kopytoff, Igor 314

Part VII Arts, Aesthetics, and Heritage 323

Introduction 325

22 Humorous Masks and Serious Politics among the Afikpo Igbo Simon Ottenberg Ottenberg, Simon 335

23 Art, Identity, Boundaries: Postmodernism and Contemporary African Art Olu Oguibe Oguibe, Olu 348

24 As Plato Duly Warned: Music, Politics, and Social Change in Coastal East Africa Kelly M. Askew Askew, Kelly M. 354

25 In Place of Slavey: Fashioning Coastal Identity Bayo Holsey Holsey, Bayo 372

Part VIII Sex and Gender Studies in Africa: Economy and Society 379

Introduction 381

26 The Economics of Polygamy Ester Boserup Boserup, Ester 389

27 "Sitting on a Map": Colonialism and the Lost Political Institutions of Igbo Women Judith Van Allen Van Allen, Judith 399

28 Virginity Testing: Managing Sexuality in a Maturing HIV/AIDS Epidemic Suzanne Leclerc-Madlala Leclerc-Madlala, Suzanne 411

Part IX Europe in Africa: Colonization 423

Introduction 425

29 The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa: Methods of Ruling Native Races Frederick D. Lugard Lugard, Frederick D. 431

30 How Europe Underdeveloped Africa Walter Rodney Rodney, Walter 439

31 The Innovation of Tradition in Colonial Africa Terence Ranger Ranger, Terence 450

32 Detained: A Writer's Prison Diary Ngugi wa Thiong'o Thiong'o, Ngugi wa 462

Part X Nations and Nationalism 471

Introduction 473

33 Negritude: A Humanism of the Twentieth Century Leopold Sedar Senghor Senghor, Leopold Sedar 477

34 On National Culture Frantz Fanon Fanon, Frantz 484

35 Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Modernity: The Paradox of Mau Mau Bruce J. Berman Berman, Bruce J. 498

36 The Invisible Face: Masks, Ethnicity, and the State in Cote d'Ivoire Christopher B. Steiner Steiner, Christopher B. 514

Part XI Violent Transformations: Conflict and Displacement 521

Introduction 523

37 Rituals of Rebellion in South-East Africa Max Gluckman Gluckman, Max 531

38 Fighting for the Rainforest: War, Youth and Resources in Sierra Leone Paul Richards Richards, Paul 543

39 Sacrifice as Terror: The Rwandan Genocide of 1994 Christopher C. Taylor Taylor, Christopher C. 555

40 Where to Be an Ancestor? Reconstructing Socio-spiritual Worlds among Displaced Mozambicans Stephen Lubkemann Lubkemann, Stephen 569

Part XII Development, Governance, and Globalization 583

Introduction 585

41 Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt James Ferguson Ferguson, James 595

42 Development Aid and Structural Violence: The Case of Rwanda Peter Uvin Uvin, Peter 609

43 Nigerian Scams as Political Critique: Globalization, Inequality and 419 Daniel Jordan Smith Smith, Daniel Jordan 616

44 The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly Jean-Francois Bayart Bayart, Jean-Francois 629

45 "Govern Yourselves!" Democracy and Carnage in Northern Mozambique Harry G. West West, Harry G. 644

46 Nuer-American Passages Dianna Shandy Shandy, Dianna 660

Index 671

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