Tag Archives: Africa

Tijo Salverda: Aiming to keep capitalist accumulation in check: The role of the global land rush’s fiercest critics

This post is part of a feature on “How Capitalists Think,” moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (University of Bergen) and Tijo Salverda (University of Cologne).

Following the concurrent 2007/2008 financial crisis and the global food crisis, investors’ appetite for (agricultural) land around the world has increased considerably. As a consequence, rural residents have been pushed off their lands, or their movements have been restricted because of new forms of enclosure (White et al. 2012), leading to an outpour of concerns about the “global land rush.” Critics such as international peasant movements, NGOs, journalists, (activist) scholars, and, in a more ambiguous way, international governance institutions have campaigned against the negative consequences of investors’ appetite for land. In particular, campaigns by GRAIN, Via Campesina, Global Witness, and Oxfam have increased awareness among the public. The extensive number of academic publications also demonstrates the scholarly attention devoted to the issue (e.g., Anseeuw et al. 2012; Borras 2016; Zoomers et al. 2016).

Continue reading

Georg Materna: “Two tribes of capitalists”: Neoconomists and politiconomists in a Senegalese marketplace

This post is part of a feature on “How Capitalists Think,” moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (University of Bergen) and Tijo Salverda (University of Cologne).

Research on capitalism commonly distinguishes between neoclassical economics and political economy. If neoclassical economics have dominated scientific debates since the 1930s at the latest, the nineteenth century view was that of political economy, with Karl Marx providing a powerful critique thereof. Both theories influence scientific reasoning until today. Yet, could both also elucidate the quotidian behavior of “normal” people in ethnographies of everyday life in the twenty-first century?

Continue reading

Heike Becker: “Global 1968” on the African continent

Fifty years after student protests shook much of the Cold War world, in the “West” and in the “East,” “Global 1968” has become the catchphrase to describe these profound generational revolts. West Berlin, Paris, and Berkeley spring to mind prominently, and most memorable behind what was then the Iron Curtain were the events of the Prague Spring. For most commentators and scholars, these events in the Global North appear to have constituted “Global 1968.”

Continue reading

Anna Hedlund: Sharp lines, blurred structures: Politics of wartime rape in armed conflict

Whenever there is armed conflict, sexual violence and rape, often against women and girls, soon emerge as central concerns in the global public. This is an important topic, as rape is often used as “a weapon of war.” It is a dangerous concern, nevertheless. Opposing war parties commonly develop public relations strategies aimed at exploiting the global concern over sexual violence. Further, “rape as a weapon of war” may be a false assumption, for it may overshadow other atrocities inherent in nearly all armed conflicts and the focus may be on rape as a selective phenomenon separated from the political and economic context.
Continue reading

Joe Trapido: Epochs and continents: Potlatch, articulation, and violence in the Congo

This post is part of the Modes of Production feature moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling and Joe Trapido.

From the sixteenth century onward, European trading networks grew ever more extensive. In some places, they displaced or directly subjugated the indigenous population early on. In others, merchants entered trading relationships with locals. In some parts of Asia, these traders interacted with forms of social organization that had affinities with Europe—dense populations with large merchant classes, and states that extracted tribute over large areas (Wolf 1997: 73–101). In other places, power and resources were distributed according to very different rules: in particular, wealth was more directly related to the person. This is not to say that these places lacked markets or currency;  they often held large markets and had an amazing diversity of objects for mediating transactions, but these objects are better seen as an element of, or adjunct to, the value of the person. I am calling such societies human modes of production.1
Continue reading

Ruy Llera Blanes: Revolutionary states in Luanda: “Events” and political strife in Angola

Last 11 November, Angola celebrated forty years of independence—a memorable date. However, these celebrations have been overshadowed by a movement of contestation that has turned a spotlight on the local regime’s antidemocratic governing tactics. This text explores some intricacies of this process, using an “anthropology of events” as a device to account for the increasingly tense political environment in this country.
Continue reading

Joe Trapido: Elections, politics, and power in central and southern Africa

The conference “Elections in central and southern Africa, dynamics of exclusion and participation,” at SOAS on 26 June 2015, prompts me to some personal reflections. Elections in central and southern Africa are marked by a paradoxical dynamic of participation and exclusion. Ostensible rituals of mass participation and of legitimation by civil power, electoral processes in the countries of the region have often made recourse to forms of exclusionary violence during campaigns. This is not, of course, unique—elections in Africa should not be seen as sui generis events. This exclusionary dynamic is well understood as a regional variant on a wider theme.
Continue reading

Joseph Trapido: Music, ritual, and capitalism in west central African history

There was a strong relationship between music and political-economic power in the precolonial Congo basin. This was because music was an integral part of a ritual nexus that dominated social life. Those who controlled the ritual nexus became rich and powerful, and controlled trade between locals and an expanding capitalism (MacGaffey 2000). Here I will show how music was important to this interface.
Continue reading