State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa

State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa

State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa

State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa

Synopsis

This volume explores important dimensions of state formation and erosion, social conflict and the gains and setbacks in democratization in contemporary Africa. The results of nearly a decade of research, reflection and collegial interaction, the collection delineates the dominant patterns of political restructuring since the upheavals of the early 1990s.

Excerpt

There have been several false starts in Africa since the 1960s, when most countries on the continent achieved independence from colonial rule. The chapters in this book will contribute to the eventual assessment of whether the 1990s reflect a new beginning or another series of false starts in Africa. The genesis of this project can be traced to the eve of the most recent global transformations. Several months before the upheavals in Eastern Europe that reverberated throughout the globe, a group of scholars met in Atlanta in February 1989 for the inaugural conference of the African Governance Program (AGP) of the Carter Center of Emory University to share their insights on the prospects for political renewal in sub-Saharan Africa.

A comparison of the report of that meeting, Perestroika Without Glasnost in Africa, with that of the Conference on African Renewal held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology eight years later makes instructive reading. At these two meetings, the central theme was the elusive political and economic renaissance in Africa. Hopes for a more democratic Africa were tentatively expressed in 1997, as they were in 1989, reflecting the fact that the euphoria of the early 1990s had ebbed. On the eve of these transformations, there had been little confidence that viable structures of democracy would be installed in Africa in the near future, so students of the continent pinned their hopes on the revitalizing of civil society, speculating that political reconstruction would germinate at the local level. By 1997, however, it was evident that even a vibrant civil society such as Nigeria's, or a nascent one such as Zambia's, could be suppressed by regimes determined to avoid democratization.

As a project, this book was first proposed during the 1989 AGP conference, and it was nurtured in a variety of smaller meetings and two major consultations organized by the AGP in 1990 and 1994. Throughout this . . .

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