Harbeson, John W and Donald Rothchild, (eds.): Africa in World Politics: Engaging a Changing Global Order.

Author:Alam, Mohammed Badrul
Position:Book review

Harbeson, John W and Donald Rothchild, (eds.) Africa in World Politics: Engaging a Changing Global Order. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2013.

Africa in World Politics: Engaging a Changing Global Order is a collection of seminal essays discussing the resurgent and vibrant, yet troubled continent of Africa. The book focuses on engaging a changing global order and at the sub-systemic level how it has impacted the nature of polity and socio-economic dimensions of African states. The authors analyse the complex set of forces that have marginalized Africa and, at the same time, are poised to be an integral part of a transformative global political order. The editors, John W. Harbeson and Donald Rothchild, have posed the "fundamental question of to what extent Africa's growing prominence on the world stage will translate into greater and more sustainable well-being for the continent in political, socio-economic, environmental, and cultural terms" (p. xv). One of the primary reasons why the nation building process has not made deeper inroads in most African states has been due to decades of postcolonial totalitarian and corrupt regimes, and thus it is rooted in uneven development, fragile democratic institutions, and pervasive clientelism. These impediments, as outlined by Crawford Young in Chapter 2, have severely compromised development in spite of an informed citizenry and citizen constituencies.

Chapter 3 summarizes sub-Saharan Africa's engagement with international capital and how it has been problematic throughout long years of struggle for independence. Indeed, Todd Moss argues that the growth of African economies has not been uniform across the board to the detriment of indigenous growth and that this problem has been an impediment to much needed international capital. What is critical in the case of Africa is how the early stages of economic growth have been mismanaged. The author of this chapter could have delved more deeply into the genesis of this problem. Ali Mazrui's chapter succinctly explains the "Salad Bowl" nature of the African continent as it has been receptive to and the epicenter of global cultures and sub-cultures. For example, Christianity, through the activities of missionaries, as well as European languages, has spread faster in a single century in Africa than it...

To continue reading