Studies in Power and Class in Africa

Studies in Power and Class in Africa

Studies in Power and Class in Africa

Studies in Power and Class in Africa


These thirteen original essays bring the concept of social class to the analysis of contemporary African politics. Each study considers different aspects of a single theme: the "authoritative allocation of values," or who gets what when, where, and why--and who gets left out. The essays address problems of major concern in the daily lives of ordinary people, pointing out just how precarious life was for most Africans during and after the Colonial period. They show how class conflict intensified with war and depression, how farmers fled to the city to maintain their independence, and how migrant workers struggled to protect their declining standard of living. The authors, who represent a cross-section of political perspectives and disciplinary backgrounds, also shed light on the importance of the state, religion, ideology, gender, ethnicity, language, and international relations in determining policy and in understanding society in general. Challenging the conventional academic and popular views of Africa, these powerful studies hold implications which, if heeded, could affect future scholarship as well as policy.


More fleeting than an English summer, most books about Africa are little read and less remembered. Even so, the coauthors of this volume labored over their articles as if chiseling in stone. Lengthy correspondences filed in thick manila folders, arguments that filled long seminar mornings, costly long distance telephone calls, and as many as four revisions attested to the seriousness of their effort. For their patience in attending the publication of this book, and for bearing with my constant nudging in matters large and small, I am grateful.

Contributors did not have to pay the price of any intellectual orthodoxy to gain admission to these pages. Although they differed in their approaches to problems of power and class, they all agreed that the subject of this volume was too important for the simple application of sterile formulas or automatic categorizations. My colleagues also had enough confidence in the significance of their ideas so as to want to express themselves clearly. the results in the words of one prepublication reviewer--and I hope that the reader will agree-- are "clear and comprehensive description" coupled with "sophisticated analysis of technical and theoretical matters."

The contributors have agreed to donate all royalties to Oxfam America to support Oxfam's efforts in relief and rehabilitation as well as in African constructive development.

Kenneth Erickson, Douglas Friedman, Athumani J. Liviga, Janet Mac- Gaffey, Francis Fox Piven, Dessalegn Rahmato, and Stuart Schaar read, and through their disagreements, improved my arguments in Continuties in the Study of Power and Class in Africa.

Queens College is fortunate to have a community of scholars--much more so than most institutions of higher learning--people who continuously and critically discuss ideas and politics with each other, who teach together and who willingly put aside their own work to read carefully their colleagues' endeavors. John R. Bowman, John Gerassi, Alem Habtu, Michael Krasner, Peter T. Manicas, W. Ofuatey-Kodjoe, and Carl A. Riskin clarified my writing and my thinking. Henry W. Morton in his stewardship of the department of political science helped in many ways, above all through creating a deep calm which scholarship needs to flourish. Norma Sileo's friendly warmth and special competence enhanced the office atmosphere and made the department a pleasant place in which to work. Iris Braun and Florence B. Friedman willingly offered every possible assistance.

A Faculty Research Award from the City University Research Foundation, in conjunction with a Mellon Fellowship, and Faculty Fellowship in Residence, enabled travel and the study of problems of rural development in Senegal, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia. a Presidential Research Award, introduced by Shirley Strum Kenny of Queens College, provided a full semester free of all . . .

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