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Africa Since 1940: The Past of the Present

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  100 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Frederick Cooper's latest book on the history of decolonization and independence in Africa helps students understand the historical process from which Africa's current position in the world has emerged. Bridging the divide between colonial and post-colonial history, it shows what political independence did and did not signify and how men and women, peasants and workers, re ...more
Paperback, 230 pages
Published October 21st 2002 by Cambridge University Press (first published October 10th 2002)
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Craig Werner
Decent enough overview of Africa from the years lead up to independence to the early 2000s. Cooper stresses a set of central themes: the failure of the colonial regimes to prepare Africa for independence (worse in some places than others; worst in the Belgian and Portuguese spheres); the promise and disappointment of "development," a process that was rickety at best during the 60s, but absolutely savaged by the oil price increases of the 70s; and the dangers of "gatekeeper" states in which a sma ...more
After demonstrating continuities between the colonies and their successor states, he zooms out and looks at how global trends played differently in various regions of the continent. A long chapter on development is probably a good introduction to that complicated mess. His sober analysis gets some teeth as he describes the "gatekeeper" state: states where the only path to wealth is to be a part of a government that signs contracts with multinational corporations to extract resources, with the go ...more
Daniel Jones
Really interesting look as how African nations evolved from their colonial heritage to what they are today, and how the states are continuations of the colonial regimes set up in place. I enjoyed the description of the 'gatekeeper' state, how the majority of moneys and materials flows through the gate guarded by whoever is in power, allowing for corruption and abuse of power.
Good introduction in African history. Short but clear. A springboard to further research.
Dec 13, 2009 Gerard added it
Cooper's knowledge of modern Africa is enormous. And the way he frames the period of decolonization, both the strategies of the empires and of the opposition, pays heed to the complexities of the moment. Nkrumah famously said to seek the political kingdom first, but there is strong evidence here that putting aside Pan-Africanist ideals and basic socioeconomic demands for the sake of a political autonomy that still remains ambiguous might not have been the best way to advance African freedom.
Essential to the understanding of African History!
Good survey and guide to further reading.
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