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Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton Series in Culture/Power/History) 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691027937
ISBN-10: 0691027935
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  • Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton Series in Culture/Power/History)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

One of Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century

Winner of the 1997 Herskovits Award, African Studies Association

"This theoretically adventurous work by a prominent Ugandan academic attempts to shift away from current paradigms constructed around themes of ethnic identity and the role of civil society. . . . This is an original book that offers a new angle of vision and is likely to stir up lively debate."--Foreign Affairs

From the Back Cover

In this provocative analysis of the obstacles to democratization in post-independence Africa, Mahmood Mamdani offers a bold, insightful account of colonialism's legacy: a bifurcated power that mediated racial domination through tribally organized local authorities, reproducing racial identity in citizens and ethnic identity in subjects. By tapping authoritarian possibilities in culture, and by giving culture an authoritarian bent, British indirect rule (decentralized despotism) set the pace for Africa; other colonial powers followed suit, South Africa being the last. Apartheid, Mamdani maintains, was actually the generic form of the colonial state in Africa.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st edition (April 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691027935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691027937
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
CONTEXT: Mamdani's starting point is that colonialism caused a profoundly negative impact on African societies, and this impact is evident in the dysfunctional African states of the modern era, wherein governments struggle for legitimacy while civil unrest and low living standards are commonplace.

OVERALL: Ultimately Mamdani does not succeed in proving his thesis, and for this 3 stars might be appropriate, but the educational value is so high and the sources so comprehensive that I give 4. The writing style is somewhat dense and occasionally opaque, the volume is a little more than it needs to be to impart the message. The worst of this is the introduction, which may be best to skip. The conclusion is a bit tinged with the short-lived post-Cold War idea that democracy is the answer for everything.

CONTENT:
Mamdani identifies the "bifurcated state" as a result of calculated colonial policy to most efficiently rule African colonies. In urban centers, individual liberties were defined and enforced, as in Western civil law. Customary law held sway in the hinterlands, however, and it was the key aspect of Indirect Rule, imported by the British from Asia. It dictated what claims the state had a right to make on individuals. Thus customary law was a means of controlling society, including land, women, animal herds, water, forest, etc. It was disguised as traditional practice because it was administered by the Native Authority - African "chiefs" acting as colonial agents. In reality it was malleable so as to ensure achieving colonial ends, which were essentially maintaining order, tax revenue, and labor supply.

Historically, there were significant institutionalized cultural restraints on the power of chiefs.
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Format: Paperback
Mamdani succeeds in breaking the colonial political system into pieces drawing the distinction between urban direct rule which spoke the language of civil society and civil rights, and rural indirect rule, which spoke of community and culture and describes them as different faces of the bifurcated colonial state. This bifurcated system dissipated with Independence revealing the need of a new agenda for the newly created state. The first duty of the state was to bring together the different stratums in the society for the reconstruction of a both ethnical and political identity. Democracy was the prescribed solution to react against apartheid and a tribalized native society. Mamdani's claims that whereas democratization brought winds that will remove erstwhile privileges inherited from a colonial, white dominated central power; it failed to conquer the system that kept the peasants under the hold of a tribal authority.
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Format: Paperback
Mamdani succeeds in breaking the colonial political system into pieces drawing the distinction between urban direct rule which spoke the language of civil society and civil rights, and rural indirect rule, which spoke of community and culture and describes them as different faces of the bifurcated colonial state. This bifurcated system dissipated with Independence revealing the need of a new agenda for the newly created state. The first duty of the state was to bring together the different stratums in the society for the reconstruction of a both ethnical and political identity. Democracy was the prescribed solution to react against apartheid and a tribalized native society. Mamdani's claims that whereas democratization brought winds that will remove erstwhile privileges inherited from a colonial, white dominated central power; it failed to conquer the system that kept the peasants under the hold of a tribal authorit
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Interesting book for African studies
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