Political Topographies of the African State: Territorial Authority and Institutional Choice / Edition 1

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Political Topographies of the African State shows that central rulers' power, ambitions, and strategies of control have always varied across subregions of the national space, even in countries reputed to be highly centralized. Catherine Boone argues that this unevenness reflects a state-building logic that is shaped by differences in the political economy of the regions - that is, by relations of property, production, and authority that determine the political clout and economic needs of regional-level elites. Center-provincial bargaining, rather than the unilateral choices of the center, is what drives the politics of national integration and determines how institutions distribute power. When devolution occurs, will we get local democracy, decentralized despotism, or disintegration of authority? Political Topographies shows why and how the answer can vary across space within a single national unit.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Highly recommended." Choice

"Catherine Boone's Political Topographies of the African State provides micro-level insight into the macro-level problem of state building in contemporary Africa and in other regions and other periods as well. Based on a deep reading of the ethnography, the politics, and the histories of West African societies, she helps us to understand at a very deep level both the sources of order and the roots of conflict in that region. A major study." Robert H. Bates, Harvard University

"This book provides a provocative yet entirely convincing reinterpretation of the dynamics of state formation in Sub Saharan Africa over the course of the second half of the twentieth century. Boone employs a wealth of primary materials from three different countries in West Africa to demonstrate persuasively that state building in the countryside, far from homogeneous, followed several distinct patterns depending on the nature of the local rural economy, and the strategic interaction between regional and state elites. In its elegant argumentation and theoretical sophistication, this work deserves comparison with the classic works on state formation in other regions of the world. It will be read for a long time." Nicolas van de Walle, Michigan State University

"...a masterful volume, which will immediately win recognition as one of the most important theoretical works on African politics. Boone provides an elegant framework for analysis, which yields and illuminating typology of institutional strategies for rural engagement, and shows how the structure of the local constrains and shapes the choices of the center." M. Crawford Young, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"Catherine Boone uses all the available literature, in English or French, as well as her intimate knowledge of the area, to show convincingly that you cannot impose any politico-administrative model top-downa in Africa. Institutional outcomes are the results of a large number of historical, cultural, social, and very importantly geographic, determinants. This is a rich and illuminating book, indispensable for understanding in particular the recent civil war in Cote d'Ivoire." Jean-Paul Azam, University of Toulouse

"Fine scholarship that is well worth reading and debating. It is certainly the most theoretically engaging and sustained treatment of center-periphery relations that I can recall." Michael G. Shatzberg, International Journal of African Historical Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521532648
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/2003
  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Maps, Tables, and Figures
Preface and Acknowledgments
1 Introduction 1
2 Mapping Political Topography in Africa 11
3 Uneven Institutional Topography Within One State 43
4 Taxing Rich Peasants, Regime Ideology as Strategy 141
5 The Geopolitics of Late Development 240
6 Conclusion 318
App.: A Note on Sources, Evidence, and Measurement 353
References 359
Index 393
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