Readings in Modernity in Africa

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 37%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $17.43
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 30%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (15) from $17.43   
  • New (9) from $17.43   
  • Used (6) from $17.43   


Questions surrounding modernity and its meanings weigh heavily on students and scholars who study Africa. Becoming modern carries a lot of different meanings and puts concepts of culture, tradition, and nation into uneasy use. Readings in Modernity in Africa brings together classic essays, old and new, to help assess the issues and problems of modernity in an African context. Questions include: How can we discuss modernity without lapsing into a Western-dominated view of history? How do we avoid losing sight of the diversity of local forms? How is it that modernity has such a powerful impact on African lives? This wide-ranging volume provides new perspectives and suggests alternatives for how a better future might be implemented in Africa and beyond.

Indiana University Press

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a fascinating and valuable book with a mix of reprinted contributions from well-known non-archaeological Africanist scholars such as, for instance, Allen Roberts and Mary Nooter Roberts, Peter Pels, and Marianne Ferme." —Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 7, no. 2
Journal of African Archaeology

"This is a fascinating and valuable book with a mix of reprinted contributions from well-known non-archaeological Africanist scholars such as, for instance, Allen Roberts and Mary Nooter Roberts, Peter Pels, and Marianne Ferme." —Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 7, no. 2

Karin Barber

"Few other books zero in on central questions to do with what we mean by 'modernity,' its multiple and bewildering manifestations in contemporary Africa, and the scholarly debates around the application of the concept to the non—Western world." —Karin Barber, University of Birmingham

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253219961
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2008
  • Series: Readings in African Studies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Geschiere is Professor of African Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam.

Birgit Meyer is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the Free University, Amsterdam.

Peter Pels is Professor of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Leiden.

Indiana University Press

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors
Sources and Acknowledgments
Introduction: Genealogies of Modernity in Africa, by Peter Geschiere, Birgit Meyer, and Peter Pels
Part 1. Genealogies of "Modernity" in Africa
Introduction to Part 1
A. From "Modernization" to "Modernity"
"Global Disconnect: Abjection and the Aftermath of Modernism," by James G. Ferguson
Excerpts from Modernization: Protest and Change, by S. N. Eisenstadt
"Fanti National Constitution: Administrative Questions," by John Mensah Sarbah
B. The Loss of Development's Meta-Narrative
The World Bank's Changing Discourse on Development: From Reliance on the State and "Modernizing Elites" to "Bypassing the State," collage from World Bank texts, 1972-1989
Excerpts from Anthropology and Development: Understanding Contemporary Social Change, by Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan
Excerpts from "Buying Futures": The Upsurge of Female Entrepreneurship—Crossing the Formal/Informal Divide in Southwest Cameroon, by Margaret Niger-Thomas
C. The Modern Production of Tradition
"Report of the Expedition Sent by the Government of Natal to Instal Cetywayo as King of the Zulus," by Theophilus Shepstone
"Ujamaa: The Basis of African Socialism," by Julius Kambarage Nyerere
"The African Renaissance, South Africa and the World," by Thabo Mbeki
"The Pidginization of Luguru Politics: Administrative Ethnography and the Paradoxes of Indirect Rule," by Peter Pels
"The Resurgence of Chiefs: Retribalism and Modernity in Post-1994 South Africa," by Lungisile Ntsebeza
"Chiefs! Law, Power, and Culture in Contemporary South Africa," by Barbara Oomen
D. Identity and Personhood in Africa
"The African Road to Socialism," by Leopold Sedar Senghor
"Society and Ideology," by Kwame Nkrumah
"African Identities," by Kwame Anthony Appiah
"Missionary Fact and Politics of the Belly: A Foucaultian Reading," by Jean-Francois Bayart
"Rheumatic Irony: Questions of Agency and Self-Deception as Refracted through the Art of Living with Spirits," by Michael Lambek
Part 2. Ethnographies of the Modern in Africa
A. Dynamics of Governmentality
"The New Africans: Between Nativism and Cosmopolitanism," by Achille Mbembe
"Staging Politisi: The Dialogics of Publicity and Secrecy in Sierra Leone," by Mariane Ferme
B. The City
"Tales of the 'Invisible City' and the Second World," by Filip de Boeck
"On the Worlding of African Cities," by Abdoumaliq Simone
C. Technology
"Degraded Images, Distorted Sounds: Nigerian Video and the Infrastructure of Piracy," by Brian Larkin
"Kwaku's Car: The Struggles and Stories of a Ghanaian Long-Distance Taxi Driver," by Jojada Verrips and Birgit Meyer
D. Modernity's Enchantment
"Witch-Hunting and Political Legitimacy: Continuity and Change in Green Valley, Lebowa, 1930-1991," by Isaac A. Niehaus
"The Convert: Act One Scene III and Act Two Scene III," by Francis Nyamnjoh
"Introduction," by Allen F. Roberts and Mary Nooter Roberts
E. New Figures of Success: Beyond the Modern?
Excerpts from Entre Paris et Bacongo, by Justin-Daniel Gandoulou
"Evolues and Feymen: Old and New Figures of Modernity in Cameroon," by Basile Ndjio
"A Successful Life in the Illegal Realm: Smugglers and Road Bandits in the Chad Basin," by Janet Roitman

Indiana University Press

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)