Introduction: thinking through Africa’s impasse (ch.

1)
MANDANI, MAHMOOD (1996) Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp. 3-34

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Thinking through Africa’s impasse

AIMS

Explain why and how ‘institutional segregation’ was developed as part of the colonial project to stabilize racial domination.

4 objectives:
• Question the writing of history by analogy. Establish the historical legitimacy of Africa as a unit of analysis
• Establish that apartheid is actually the generic form of the colonial state in Africa. Colonial rule can be generically understood as ‘decentralized despotism’ • Underline the contradictory character of ethnicity. Problematize the way liberational movements dealt with ethnicity • Show that although the ‘bifurcated state’ created with colonialism was deracialized after independence, it was not democratized
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Thinking through Africa’s impasse

AIMS
•3

questions:
• To what extent was the (current) structure of power shaped in the colonial period rather than in the anticolonial revolt? • Rather than just uniting diverse ethnic groups in a common predicament, was not racial domination actually mediated through a variety of ethnically organized local powers? • If power reproduced itself by exaggerating difference and denying the existence of an oppressed majority, is not the burden of protest to transcend these differences without denying them?

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Why is Africa poor?

DISCUSSION

Discussion on Africa suffering from an impasse, by sticking to either liberal (free civil society) or communitarian views (put communities at the center)

Solution to impasse lies in creative synthesis

South Africa as an archetype of the colonial response to the ‘native question’: territorial plus institutional segregation (specific native institutions)

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Thinking through Africa’s impasse

DISCUSSION
•A

balance to be struck between ahistorical structuralism and free agency as posed by poststructuralism
Binary oppositions of structuralism (modern/pre-modern, developed/underdeveloped) superseded by poststructuralism

Structural inequality does not negate by itself historicity (Bayart). The latter still exists even if the former is present

Between the exceptional (structuralism) and the routinary, universalist (poststructuralism) there’s space to argue for the specificity of the African experience while allowing for a comparative perspective not building on analogy with the West

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Thinking through Africa’s impasse

DISCUSSION

Beyond a history by analogy
• A state-centrist argument runs which regards the state as weak and ‘suspended above society’, embedded in patrimonial practices. Thus, the main theoretical point to be established is in which stage of state development the African state currently is, as compared to the European experience • Another stream focuses on exit and the uncaptured peasantry. A good example is Hyden’s ‘economy of affection’ (African rural areas not organizing around market relations). Hyden proceeds through analogies: when he finds that African peasantry has not been captured in the ways it historically was in Europe, Asia or Latin America, he concludes it is non-captured at all, missing the relations that actually capture it.

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Thinking through Africa’s impasse

DISCUSSION

Beyond a history by analogy
• Accounts centered on civil society sustain that democratization is the contention between civil society and the state • Under colonial rule, civil society was based on an exclusion by race. Nonetheless, the subject population was not actually excluded but ‘incorporated’ through specific forms of power • Its nature was not therefore exclusion, but rather another form of power • Hence, no reform of contemporary civil society institutions can by itself unravel this ‘decentralized despotism’, since that requires dismantling that form of power (p. 16)

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Thinking through Africa’s impasse

DISCUSSION
• The

bifurcated state

• Indirect rule became the dominating strategy after the Scramble • It was based on a distinction between urban society, under direct rule, where only civilized people had civil rights and natives were excluded, and rural areas, under indirect rule, where customary law would apply along with the rule of tribal authorities • Urban power spoke the language of civil society and civil rights, urban power of community and culture (p. 18)

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Thinking through Africa’s impasse

DISCUSSION
• The

bifurcated state
• The colonial state as protector of the society of colons, thus exclusion both of rural and urban populations • Anticolonial struggle: embryonic (urban) middle and working classes fighting for their entry into civil society • Independence: Africanization brings 1) redress, and then 2) redistribution, but under the same existing lines (regional, ethnic, religious). Hence, patrimonialism • Current stage: collapse of embryonic civil society, absorption by the state

• 4 moments in the development of civil society:

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Thinking through Africa’s impasse

DISCUSSION
• The

bifurcated state

• Land was defined as a customary communal holding. But the African was defined not as a native but as a tribesperson. British rule sought to civilize Africans as communities, not as individuals • Amongst all the traditions existing in the XIXth century, that of contemporary conquest states was privileged and enforced as the basis of customary authority • Alongside with ‘enforced’ custom was force. Since tribes were left out of market relations, and thus labor could not be mobilised by markets, the only way to extract labor was through extra-economic coercion: forced labor, forced contributions, etc.

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Thinking through Africa’s impasse

DISCUSSION

Ethnicity and the anticolonial revolt
• Every rebellion movement was mirroring the ethnicity of the same state it was trying to overthrow • Democratization in the continent would have entailed the deracialization of civil power and the detribalization of customary power (p. 25) in order to trascend the bifurcated state

Despotism after independence
• 2 varieties: 1) conservative states, which removed racialism but kept in place the Native Authorities, thus strengthening division between ethnicities; 2) radical states, which deracialized and detribalized, but furthered control over local populations from the center in the name of development, thus widening the urban-rural divide

• Both then reproduced despotism as embedded in the bifurcated state
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Thinking through Africa’s impasse

DISCUSSION

South African exceptionalism?
• SA institutionalised the divide between ethnic on the one hand, and urban-rural on the other • No matter the particularities (weight of black urban populations, strength of civil society) apartheid in SA is de facto an application of British indirect rule • The objective was containing urban-based revolt, first by repackaging the native population under a constellation of autonomous Native Authorities so as to fragment it, and then by policing its movement between country and town so as to freeze the division between the two (p. 31)

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