Academic journal article African Studies Review

Towards a New Map of Africa

Academic journal article African Studies Review

Towards a New Map of Africa

Article excerpt

Ben Wisner, Camilla Toulmin, and Rutendo Chitiga, eds. Towards a New Map of Africa. London: Earthscan, 2005. xxiii + 352 pp. Maps. Figures. Tables. Notes. Index. $135.00. Cloth. $35.00. Paper.

Towards a New Map of Africa is composed of contributions by two dozen authors who offer their thoughts on political, environmental, and economic changes on the continent since the publication of Timberlake's 1985 Earthscan book, Africa in Crisis. It does not delve into cartographic aspects of the continent as such, but encourages visualizing Africa differently and working collectively to create a "new map of Africa" (35). The mental map provided to readers is, despite efforts to point to positive changes in the region, one that is rather bleak. Structural Adjustment Programs have produced maladjusted economies no more diversified than they were during the colonial period. The continent is awash with small arms, foreign investment remains low, AIDS and poverty are rampant, and occasional positive developments are anomalies. Even though some longstanding conflicts have ended, violent hostilities doubled in Africa in the 1990s. South Africa has majority rule, but there is genocide in Darfur, and the trafficking of as many as a hundred thousand African children annually continues. Some smallholders are benefiting from fair trade initiatives, and microcredit schemes are becoming more common, but Africa is now overtaking Latin America as the world region with the most inequitable income distribution. The African Union was formed, there is a movement toward greater regional cooperation, and many of the great despots from Africa's first generation of leaders are no longer in power; nevertheless the movement toward greater democracy and human rights has not been unidirectional. While there are more community conservation programs, threats to wildlife tourism can be expected to increase. Educational attainment remains relatively low continentwide. Africa has the fastest growing population but only 9 percent of the world's fresh water-and that is distributed highly unevenly. Agricultural production is low and food insecurity widespread. Overall, the "continent's economic position and opportunities have worsened in relative terms" since 1985 (6). …

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