New: The Routledge Handbook of African Politics

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Profile 3In this blog, Andrea Scheibler tells us about the new Routledge Handbook of African Politics, that she has edited with our Co-editor Dr Nic Cheeseman and Prof  David Anderson. Andrea is a DPhil candidate in African History at the University of Oxford, and a member of St Hugh’s College.




The Routledge Handbook of African Politics, published last month, is the product of a collaboration between 35 established and emerging Africanist academics. Three years in the making, the Handbook is arguably the most comprehensive overview of African politics currently available on the market and we hope it will become a standard reference book for students seeking to understand the development of, and transitions within, contemporary Africa.


The book itself is thematically broken down into six core sections. Each chapter within these sections deals with a specific topic, providing an overview of the main arguments and theories, as well as explaining the empirical evidence upon which they are based. In so doing, each author gives a clear and structured sense of the development of writing in their given field.


As can be seen from the chapter list below, leading experts provide the definitive take on the topics they know best, drawing on a number of high-profile cases such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. The Handbook also contains new contributions on a wide range of topical issues, including terrorism, the growing influence of China, civil war, power-sharing, and transitional justice.

The first section deals with the strength and capacity of the modern state, drawing on a multitude of themes such as neopatrimonialism, nationalism, security, the law, and corruption. This leads into our second section, which examines the citizenry and the ways in which they engage with the state and other key institutions. African states and politics of identity are more complex than many predominant narratives allow, and we have been sure to include other salient markers of political identities, such as class, religion, and gender, alongside the much-discussed markers of ethnicity and autochthony.

Our third section covers conflict, a topic often traced back to the combination of weak states, predatory leaders, and intense competition over scarce resources. However, these chapters deal not just with what causes conflict, but also how states have emerged out of it through power-sharing, peacebuilding, and the imposition of transitional justice; as well as covering topical issues such as oil politics on the continent.

The fourth section deals with the ‘mixed bag’ of democratization through a range of chapters on the resilience of electoral authoritarianism, the power of elections to effect change, the rise of African legislatures, the evolution of political parties, and the growing place of public opinion in democratic consolidation. These topics feed into our fifth section on the political economy, dealt with through an examination of both formal and informal institutions and strategies of development. These chapters document restrictions on aid and trade, assess patterns of exchange and economic management, and examine the historic role of civil society and public services. Together they provide an overview of the patchy progress towards political liberalization and the economic constraints on African governments.

Our final section gives attention to Africa’s international role and relations – a theme that is comparatively lacking in the literature on contemporary Africa. Topical issues such as terrorism and the rise of China are taken together with the broader interactions of the global economy and pan-regional institutions to provide a clear take on the increasing institutionalization of African politics, demonstrating the developing strength of African countries on the global stage.

Although it is focused on politics, the Handbook is broadly interdisciplinary in scope, as evidenced by the diversity of sources, methods, and range of topics covered. This gives the text a broader regional and international dimension, making it relevant for students and policy makers interested not just in Africa, but also in international relations, development, democratization and conflict resolution more generally, as well as for students of anthropology and modern history.

Further information about the Handbook can be found on the Routledge website. To receive a 20% discount, please take a look at this flyer and follow the instructions there (please note this discount only applies to purchases made directly from the publisher and does not apply to sites such as Amazon).


Contents List:


 An Introduction to African PoliticsDavid M. Anderson and Nic Cheeseman Section 1: The Politics of the State
1 Nationalism, One-Party States, and Military RuleNic Cheeseman
2 Federalism and DecentralizationRotimi T. Suberu
3 The Rule of Law and the CourtsPeter VonDoepp
4 Security and the Privatization of Force and ViolenceRita Abrahamsen
5 Neopatrimonialism and Political RegimesGero Erdmann
6 The Informal Practices of Civil ServantsJean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan
Section 2: The Politics of Identity
7 Class PoliticsBill Freund
8 The Politics of EthnicityGabrielle Lynch
9 Autochthony and the Politics of BelongingPeter Geschiere
10 Religion and PoliticsStephen Ellis and Gerrie ter Haar
11 Muslim Politics in West AfricaLeonardo A. Villalón
12 Women in PoliticsAmina Mama
Section 3: The Politics of Conflict
13 Civil WarPhilip Roessler
14 Oil PoliticsRicardo Soares de Oliveira
15 Power-SharingAndreas Mehler
16 Post-Conflict PeacebuildingDevon Curtis
17 Transitional Justice after AtrocityPhil Clark
Section 4: Democracy & Electoral Politics
18 Electoral Authoritarianism and Multi-Party PoliticsNicolas van de Walle
19 The Power of ElectionsStaffan I. Lindberg
20 Emerging LegislaturesJoel D. Barkan
21 Political PartiesMatthijs Bogaards
22 Public Opinion and Democratic ConsolidationMichael Bratton
Section 5: Political Economy & Development
23 Aid, Trade, Investment, and DependencyMartin Williams
24 Social PolicyJeremy Seekings
25 NGOsMichael Jennings
26 The Economy of AffectionGöran Hydén
27 The Politics of DevelopmentTim Kelsall
Section 6: International Relations
28 Africa and the Global EconomyRichard E. Mshomba
29 Pan-Africanism and Regional IntegrationGilbert M. Khadiagala
30 Terrorism, Security, and the StateKen Menkhaus
31 Democracy PromotionStephen Brown
32 China and AfricaChris Alden

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