Green, Maia: "The Development State: Aid, Culture and Civil Society in Tanzania."(Book review)

Author:Biedzynski, James

Green, Maia. The Development State: Aid, Culture and Civil Society in Tanzania. Suffolk, UK: Boydall and Brewer, 2014.

Development is a controversial topic in African studies. Many African nationalists blame European colonialism for distorting their respective economies and making them dependent on the global market. Others argue that Africa has never had a chance to develop its own economic strategy given the violence and corruption that erupted after independence. Whatever the case, one cannot understand contemporary Africa without looking at development. Maia Green, an anthropologist at the University of Manchester, provides the reader with an interesting, yet jargon-laden, account of how development has unfolded in Tanzania.

Tanzania was colonized by Germans at the end of the nineteenth century. Known as German East Africa, it was the jewel of the German colonial empire. After World War I, the United Kingdom took control and ruled it as Tanganyika until 1961. Tanganyika was first a League of Nations Mandate and then a United Nations Trusteeship. Thus, it had more external supervision than many other African colonies. After World War II, an indigenous nationalist movement pushed for independence, which was achieved in 1961. Following independence, Tanganyika merged with Zanzibar to produce the new state of Tanzania in 1964. Tanzania's first leader, Julius Nyerere, unveiled the Ujamaa path to social and economic development in 1967. The villagization of production, a key component of the Ujamaa plan, essentially collectivized all forms of local productive capacity. For many citizens, who were forced out of their old homes, this new system was as disruptive as some of the pre-1914 German practices. By 1985, it was apparent that the Ujamaa plan was a disaster and had to be abandoned. At that point, Tanzania shifted to a market-oriented economy.

Green participated in several development projects in Tanzania over the past twenty years. Her accounts of the process cast doubt on whether development projects truly benefit Tanzania. For one thing, there is a limit to what any project can do. In...

To continue reading