Africa: Politics and Societies South of the Sahara

Critical Whiteness: An Old Critique for a New German Debate

Posted in African Politics, Culture, Global Africa by ruben eberlein on April 28, 2013

Political activists in Germany are six steps behind again when it comes to discussions about racism and imaginations of Africa and Otherness at large that moved the US and UK, for instance, decades ago. And make the same mistakes again. The debate about “Critical Whiteness” is getting more and more a carneval of identity politics negatively connoted, self-flagellation and victimization. The latest example is the aggressive intervention of political activists at a taz-sponsored event on racism. There is antivenom against this kind of thinking, and it is out for eleven years now: Achille Mbembe’s “African Modes of Self-Writing”, still relevant and already a modern classic. Read it if you don’t know it!

A Scary End for Democrazy in Mali

Posted in African Politics, Mali by ruben eberlein on April 26, 2013

Read an English version of my short text on Mali published in the recent edition of Blätter des iz3w here. If you prefer German, download the original article as a pdf. (more…)

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Danny Hoffman takes Deleuze to West Africa

Posted in African Politics, Global Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone by ruben eberlein on April 19, 2013

WarMachinesA book that really inspired me recently is Danny Hoffman’s account of the Kamajor militia in Sierra Leone and other groups in Liberia during the wars of the 1990’s/early 2000’s. “The War Machines. Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia” takes the theoretical thinking of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to an African conflict. “Recent trends in the reorganization of global security are laying the groundwork for continued mobilizations of exactly the kind represented by the Mano River War”, writes Hoffman, while calling the conflict a “laboratory of the future”.

I abstained from writing a review because everything is nicely summed up by Mats Utas already. Buy this book and be fascinated by a rare combination of investigative guerilla journalism and innovative theoretical thinking.

Mali: The Politics of Patronage and Democrazy

Posted in African Politics, Mali by ruben eberlein on April 19, 2013

A short text of mine on Mali will appear in the next issue of the fine Blätter des Informationszentrums 3. Welt (iz3w), due to be on sale next week. I criticize the view that Mali has been a perfect example of democratization in Africa and rather rate the country as another neo-patrimonial system where a small oligarchy holds power and wealth. The voter turnouts in the last elections (about 35 per cent) speak for themselves when one talks about public enthusiasm for parliamentary democracy. It also shows the completely uninspired approach by the so-called international community which presses for elections soon. For an interesting analysis of the recent conflict with reference to the civil society-industry in Mali visit the webpage of Böll Foundation.

Book Review: Politics of Origin in Africa by Bøås and Dunn

Posted in African Politics, Cote d'Ivoire, Culture, DR Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Reviews by ruben eberlein on April 19, 2013

The journal Welt-Sichten, edited in Frankfurt/Main, will publish my review of “Politics of Origin in Africa. Autochthony, Citizenship and Conflict”, written by Morten Bøås and Kevin Dunn, in one of its next issues. An English version of the German text will appear on this blog, so keep connected if you are interested.

Book Review: African Conflicts and Informal Power (ed. by Mats Utas)

Posted in African Politics, Cote d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Reviews, Sierra Leone, Uganda by ruben eberlein on April 19, 2013

ImageMy review of the recommendable book “African Conflicts and Informal Power. Big Men and Networks”, edited by Mats Utas of Uppsala’s Nordic Africa Insitute, has been published by Blätter des Informationszentrums 3. Welt (iz3w). Contributors to the five country and five thematic studies include Morten Bøås, Henrik Vigh, Mariam Persson, Maya Mynster Christensen, Karel Arnaut as well as other specialists on African conflicts. Editor Mats – an expert of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Somalia – has his own website; visit it for fresh and first-hand information on those countries as well as Mali, the DRC or Kenya (guest authors post there regularly).

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