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Population-Centric but Decent
, July 12, 2012
We used this book for a grad school class and it's a pretty good read but could use about 30 pages of charts and maps (at least). I have more thorough notes on this book on my blog For Unofficial Use Only.
**Precolonial history is important but very little of this history is written down.***
***Pay attention to Iliffe's theme of social organizations and horizontal structures.***
Questions: with his methodology--what are you most/least confident about?
- Population is the most significant theme/framework for the author
- In West Africa with trade you have a tendency to overexpand
- In East Africa it's production.
- Polygny is at one level rational but on another it's an enduring source of conflict
- Ethiopia has a long enduring history with Christianity as a state religion; among highlanders especially there's still a large number that identify themselves as an ancient Christian state.
They are also the only society to have avoided colonization (except for Italy for 7 years from 1938-1945)
- Islam expansion spreads across North Africa more forcefully, whereas it filters more gently down the east and west coasts (slowest on the west coast)
- Islam is more effective in pre-existing polygamous societies.
- Animist religions in West Africa are perhaps more amenable to Christianity in many ways because of compatible overlaps such as replacing numerous deities with saints etc...
What about the idea of slavery's acceptance culturally? vs. the Arab slave trade?
What caused slavery? Demand overseas or existing institutions?
What's the relationship today between Africa and biggest slave partners?
What's the relationship between state building and enslavement?
- "Secondary empires" were prevalent from slave trade (they depended on the market from guns for example)
- Slave trade => peaks decades later for East Africa in the 1800s whereas this had already peaked for the Atlantic Slave trade. Perhaps the effects of the slave trade was worst in the East because of how rapid, violent and intense the peak of the slave trade came on.
- Matrilineage helped Atlantic slave trade because they could steal villages/people--sell their men and absorb their women.
- 19th century:
Central: trading revolution
South: military/competition/modernization--at least in the organization
West: Religious revolution
East: late impact of slave trade and its impact to authority
- Zulu expansion/condensing efforts led to a withdrawal of population from South African interior that opened it up for later Afrikaners.
- Abolition of slavery just accelerates it elsewhere: Sokoto Caliphate has 1/3 slave population
- What is the story for the African people- infrastructure or population? Which drove which at which point?
*Initial railways not for economic reasons necessarily but for military and transportation of personnel...this gave way to reduced trading costs and increased trading along rail lines--an indirect and beneficial effect
- What was racism's impact on colonial administrators?
- What is the role of overpopulation pressures to the continent?
- What's the role of the literature of adventurers like Stanley?
- How are missionary efforts tied to education (and is it different) between France and Britain?
- British are more economically focused whereas perhaps the French are more (broadly) strategically focused
- Divergence of interests between countries and between homeland administrations and local governors on the ground
- 3 schools of thought:
Colonialism was destructive/changed everything
It changed very little because Europeans couldn't control much
Iliffe is in between, looking at the aims/desires of Africans and Europeans separately but in
- Indirect rule seeks to create bureaucracy in African communities...so choosing a leader from them steals that african leader's legitimacy
- How did ruling classes respond to state that they inherited?
Early response was patrimonialization since most of them inherited useless political infrastructures.
- Counterfactual: What would have happened if there hadn't been a Cold War that funded and stabilized the continent initially (no borders moved etc...)
One could compare the parts that were more and less affected by the Cold War.
Research/thesis: Examine the level of Cold War influence. But this can be difficult when you look at francophone countries less affected by the cold war who received significant French economic support.
- Professor: Cold War patronage might have been the only thing that prevented widespread anarchy and violence in the short term
- No ruling classes were in a position to think long-term
- Russian influence served as a counterbalance to European influence. Previous colonial powers were hesitant to abuse African countries because they didn't want to push countries toward Russia (which happened in some places).
- Role of single party regimes and army
"Army did not intervene in politics, they were invited in"
Thesis/Research : Examine the role of historical apartheid on current military structure/effectiveness and foreign policy.
Thesis/Research: Has circumcision rose among infants since fight against AIDS?
- Story of South Africa is gold but also the size of the settler class. They've been there for 200 years...they're not from anywhere else.
- You have the pre-existing conflicting between Afrikaaner settler class and British colonial
Afrikaner interests are generally agricultural
- Doesn't address the foundations enough...look at comparative colonialism. This is closer to South American colonialism.
Role of access to land plays a pivotal role
- South Africa they talked about an economy of gold and maize (play on germany's iron and rye). It's a national capitalist economy in a way that don't exist elsewhere in Africa.
*Interesting role between African population, colored/Indian, and white population.
- Eventually ANC will have to change because now it's both the labor and business party
*18th century is when `colored' classification began
4 classifications: European, Colored, Indian and African
- Africaners tended to be poorer and more rural and Brits tend to be more urban and business types
- System is still in place that allows people to migrate from elsewhere to farm and work.
*This migrant worker economy (long term mobility) is a huge driver or HIV (you see the same thing happening in Cote D'Ivoire which also has a migrant worker economy)