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Drink, Power, and Cultural Change (Social History of Africa)

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Editorial Reviews


'This is a valuable work essential to anyone interested in the social history of East Africa. Willis presents a comprehensive survey of the social significance and effects of brewing, local alcohol consumption, and government policies toward alcohol in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. He presents a synthesis of most of the relevant available published and archival material related to alcohol along with information collected from interviews with African informants in one society in each of the three countries covered...This is an important and unconsidered field of research. Willis's excellent volume does much to rectify this neglect.' - T.O. Beidelman in Anthropos '...a work of impressive scholarship...Potent Brews is a well written, captivating history of the shifting rhetoric and behaviour around alcohol, and can serve as a valuable classroom resource...I would recommend this work for anyone interested in the history of East Africa or the social history of alcohol. Because of the excellent organization and accessible writing style, this book would be useful as an African history text for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses in African history.' - Sarah C. Richards in H-Africa 'In Potent Brews, Justin Willis, a British historian of Africa, examines the significance of alcohol in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. The work, which is based on three case studies, includes detailed analysis of power and social relations in these countries...One of Willis's central arguments is that discussions about alcohol are often based on historical fictions. There are some, for instance, who look at traditional African society as a time when drinking was integrated with the rest of life, when alcohol was consumed as part of a collective ritual...This, says Willis, belongs to the realms of imagination: private drinking and drunkenness always existed alongside the ritual use of alcohol.' - Sousa Jamba in The Times Literary Supplement 'Potent Brews is a comprehensive and absorbing social history that seeks to uncover the connections between alcohol use and power in East African societies over the past 150 years. ...Potent Brews is an impressive social history and is well worth reading' - Jeremy Martens in ARAS '...a very valuable book. For the general reader, it has fascinating details on the development of colonial policy on the consumption of alcohol by Africans, Christianity and alcohol, and of course the "the drunken settlers". In the classroom, this is an invaluable text in graduate/undergraduate courses that combine history and anthropology. It raises questions that can form the basis of very energetic classroom discussions. Willis has, with determination, pursued a subject rarely tackled in scholarship and attempted to show how alcohol can be a window into a society and its social challenges. It is well researched, detailed and carefully documented.' - W.O.Maloba in Journal of African History --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Emmanuel Kwaku Akyeampong completed his Ph.D. in African history at the University of Virginia in 1993, and is assistant professor of history at Harvard University. His articles on the social and cultural history of Ghana have appeared in Histoire Sociale

Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

the International Journal of African Historical Studies

and the Journal of African History.


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