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Emerging Perspectives on ‘African Development’

Speaking Differently


Edited By George J. Sefa Dei and Paul Banahene Adjei

Emerging Perspectives on ‘African Development’: Speaking Differently discusses numerous areas of interest and issues about Africa, including contemporary challenges and possibilities of development. The book critically engages the many ways of presenting ‘development,’ highlighting the interplay of tradition and modernity as well as contestations over knowledge production in ‘post-colonial’ Africa. It offers cautionary words to field practitioners, researchers, and social theorists who work in development using language that is easily accessible to laypersons. This book is also for undergraduate and graduate courses on development, global education, rural development, and Africa studies. For readers looking for something new about Africa beyond the old stories of catastrophes and human misery, this book will be indispensable. It demonstrates that even in the face of many failures, tragedies, and suffering, Africa’s stories can be told with hope and a sense of possibility.
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Many books have been written about Africa, so the obvious question is: Why another book about Africa? What is this book saying about Africa that has not already been said in other scholarly works? The continent over the years has been disserted, discussed, and heavily analyzed and theorized. The words ‘risk’ and ‘crisis’ have been synonymous with Africa. However, beyond stories of tragedies, failures, and sadness there are other stories of hope. Stories of possibilities, agency, and resistance are waiting to be told. So we ask: How does one write and think differently about Africa? What are the theoretical and methodological frameworks that can best tell Africa’s stories in their complex and nuanced forms? This collection will seek some answers and it is hoped begin a critical discussion.

The book is written from the perspectives of field development practitioners, researchers, and social theorists who have been involved in different capacities of doing ‘development’ in African contexts. These contributors are writing from their experiences and knowledge bases as a starting point to recast, rethink, and reframe ‘African development.’ The book is especially timely given the relatively recent controversy over KONY 2012 and how altruism and a ‘do-good feeling’ shape conventional thinking of ‘development.’ As authors, scholars, and researchers on Africa, we weigh in on the raging debates about ‘African development,’ paying attention to the ‘anti-development’ thesis as well.

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