African Struggles Today: Social Movements Since Independence
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Three leading Africa scholars investigate the social forces driving the democratic transformation of postcolonial states across southern Africa. Extensive research and interviews with civil society organizers in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, and Swaziland inform this analysis of the challenges faced by non-governmental organizations in relating both to the attendant inequality of globalization and to grassroots struggles for social justice.
Peter Dwyer is a tutor in economics at Ruskin College in Oxford.
Leo Zeilig Lecturer at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London.
challenge the neoliberal project implemented by the West in Africa (and promoted elsewhere) since the mid-1970s. Approximately eleven trillion dollars (US) was spent globally to shore up banks and insurance companies, principally in the United Kingdom and United States, but also in other G20 countries. Illusions of free markets unhampered by state intervention were dramatically shelved in an opportunistic resurgence of selective neo-Keynesianism. Of course, the reality of neoliberalism since the
questions and perspectives to more general issues and that strives to win fellow militants to a common framework of understanding and intervention. We also argue that militants must maintain independence from Western donors and local exploiters to protect themselves against becoming mere cheerleaders in a political circus of recycled elites—while providing a nuanced view of how, under real conditions of capitalism, independence is often a matter of degree. Our strategic position is clearly one
“identity,” “indeterminacy,” “complexity,” and “performance,” in which the “discourse” or “symbolism” of social movements becomes the primary frame of analysis, leads inexorably to neglecting the content of those movements.40 Much writing in this area, indeed, eschews any interest in or commitment to progressive political and social change.41 There is, in the use of the term “postcolony” and the (in many ways sensible) rejection of earlier projects of “modernization” and “development,” a
social and welfare services and the effects of soaring unemployment and poverty. The response of African social movements to the challenges posed by neoliberal globalization in the late 1990s and the early twenty-first century are addressed in the larger part of the overall study. Nationalism and its discontents, 1945–1970 The movements for national independence which accelerated in postwar Africa and which (in most cases) achieved their aim in the early 1960s were, in many respects,
countries of the anticapitalist movement has enabled them to offer a more sustained critique of neoliberalism, and in some cases to mobilize mass movements to challenge the particular manifestation of such policies. However, many activists were also critical of the Social Forums’ modus operandi and tendency to assume uniform solutions to problems that, because of uneven political, economic, and social development, find diverse expression internationally and in Africa in particular, a subject that