Politics of West Africa
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0043
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0043
Nigerian “419” scams, civil war violence in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the relatively recent traumas of colonial rule: all examples of the troubling features that people commonly associate with West African societies. At closer inspection, however, a more complex picture emerges. In this picture, West Africa boasts a historical legacy of one of the most developed precolonial forms of statehood on the continent, the Sokoto Caliphate, as well as contemporary examples of ambitious regional integration. Moreover, from the arid Sahel to the voluptuous greens of the Niger Delta, the region contains unparalleled riches in resources and biodiversity. Diversity also extends into the social realm, with the complex and myriad ethnic, linguistic, and religious communities that weave and maintain West Africa’s social, political, and economic fabrics. From grinding poverty to stupendous resource riches, and from civil wars to tourist beaches, West Africa is thus a region of contrasts and the politics of the region, understood to include all actions and institutions involved in the governance of West Africa, reflect these contrasts. This article presents a selection of excellent academic texts on this diverse and fascinating realm of African politics. It discusses the themes of electoral politics, the nature of the state, and democratization alongside the impact of ethnic, religious, class, and gender identities and the politics of collective violence, in an attempt to do justice to the disciplinary and thematic heterogeneity of the academic works it presents.
Starting with the major historical transformations that West Africa experienced in the 20th century, this section presents works that can help to make sense of some of the most important historical trends and developments. Lovejoy 2005 provides an example of politics and Islamic state-making before colonial rule, while Crowder 1984 details the ways in which the French and English governed West Africa. Subsequently, Kirk-Greene and Bach 1995, Zeleza and Eyoh 2003, and Cruise O’Brien, et al. 1989 bridge the tumultuous years since independence. Eyoh and Stren 2007 and Olukoshi 2001 both analyze pertinent aspects of contemporary politics, with the rapid urbanization and political-economic uncertainties that characterize most of the region. Finally, as a resource for general support on West African research, the reader is referred to the West African Research Association and its research center in Dakar, Senegal.
Crowder, Michael. West Africa under Colonial Rule. London: Hutchinson, 1984.
Ambitious introduction to the French and English colonial policies in the region in the period 1880–1945. No online version, but available used and in most academic libraries.
Cruise O’Brien, Donal B., John Dunn, and Richard Rathbone. Contemporary West African States. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Edited volume with good chapters on the politics of nine West African states. Update of Dunn’s West African States: Failure and Promise from 1978.
Eyoh, Dickson, and Richard Stren, eds. Decentralization and the Politics of Urban Development in West Africa. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2007.
Recent collection of papers on the urban dimension of politics in West Africa, structured around decentralization, identity, and citizenship.
Kirk-Greene, A. H. M., and Daniel Bach. State and Society in Francophone Africa since Independence. New York: St. Martin’s, 1995.
Comprehensive analysis and overview of the politics of Francophone Africa, based on both French and English sources. Somewhat dated, but still unparalleled in reach and depth.
Lovejoy, Paul E. Slavery, Commerce and Production in the Sokoto Caliphate of West Africa. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 2005.
Fascinating introduction to one of the most developed precolonial African polities: the Sokoto Caliphate. Crucial to understanding colonial and postcolonial politics in this region. Highlights the roles of Islam and slavery in this society, which stretched across Benin, Niger, and Nigeria.
Olukoshi, Adebayo O. West Africa’s Political Economy in the Next Millennium: Retrospect and Prospect. Dakar, Senegal: CODESRIA, 2001.
Outlines the main drivers for continuity and change in contemporary West Africa, focusing on, among other topics, regional cooperation, globalization, peacekeeping, governance, civil society, and gender issues.
Research association based at the University of Boston, aiming to foster collaborative research on West Africa, supplement documentation resources, and disseminate information about the region. Its West African Research Centre in Dakar, Senegal, provides research support to affiliated scholars.
Zeleza, Tiyambe, and Dickson Eyoh. Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century African History. London: Routledge, 2003.
Collection of introductory articles on the major states, cities, and themes in recent African history. Good starting point for any study on Africa.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
- Advanced Democracies, Electoral System Reform in
- Advanced Democracies, Public Opinion and Public Policy in
- Advertising and Election Campaigns in the United States
- Africa, Comparative Politics of
- American Indian Politics
- Arab-Israel Conflict, The
- Arendt, Hannah
- Aristotle's Political Thought
- Australia and New Zealand, Comparative Politics of
- Authoritarianism in Russia
- Bicameralism in Stable Democracies
- Biopolitics and State Regulation of Human Life
- Brazilian Political Development
- Business-State Relations in Europe
- Canadian Foreign Policy
- Candidate Emergence and Recruitment
- Channels of Electoral Representation in Advanced Industria...
- China's One-Child Policy
- China-Taiwan Relations
- Chinese Communist Party
- Chinese Nationalism
- Civil Society in South Asia
- Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Civil-Military Relations in Asia
- Civil-Military Relations in Latin America
- Class in American Politics
- Comparative Capitalism Theory
- Comparative Industrial Relations in Europe
- Comparative Politics of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bis...
- Comparative Politics of Chile and Uruguay
- Comparative Politics of Federalism
- Comparative Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
- Congress, Defense, and Foreign Policy
- Congressional Reassertion of Authority
- Conservative Litigation Strategies and Groups in US Judici...
- Corruption in China
- Cosmopolitan Political Thought
- Crisis of European Integration in Historical Perspective, ...
- Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School
- Cuban Political Development
- Cycles of Protest
- Democracy and Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Democracy and Dictatorship in Central Asia
- Democracy in Latin America
- Democratic Citizenship
- Democratic Peace Theory
- Democratic Theory
- Democratization in Africa
- Democratization in Central America
- Democratization in Mexico
- Development of Survey Research
- Direct Democracy in the United States
- East Africa, Politics of
- Economic Voting
- Election Forecasting
- Election Laws in Democracies
- Electoral and Party System Development in Sub-Saharan Afri...
- Electoral Change in Latin America
- Emotion and Racial Attitudes in Contemporary American Poli...
- Environmental Governance
- Environmental Politics among Advanced Industrial Democraci...
- Ethnic Diasporas and US Foreign Policy
- Ethnic Politics
- Eurasia, Comparative Politics of
- European Social Democracy
- European Union, Politics of the
- Failed and Weak States in Theory and Practice
- Far-Right Parties in Europe
- Federalism in the United States
- Field Experiments
- Filibuster, The
- Gender and Electoral Politics in the United States
- Gender and International Relations
- Gender, Behavior, and Representation
- Global Inequality
- Globalization and the Welfare State
- Globalization, Health Crises, and Health Care
- Governance in Africa
- Governmental Responses to Political Corruption
- Gridlock and Divided Government in the U.S.
- Historiography of Twentieth-Century American Conservatism,...
- Hobbes’s Political Thought
- Hume’s Political Thought
- Hybrid Regimes
- Identity and Political Behavior
- Immigrant Incorporation in Canada
- Immigrant Incorporation in Western Europe
- Immigration and International Relations
- Impact of Campaign Contributions on Congressional Behavior...
- Implicit Attitudes in Public Opinion
- Income Dynamics and Politics in North America and Europe
- Income Inequality and Advanced Democracies
- Income Inequality in the United States, The Politics of
- Indian Democracy
- Indigenous Rights and Governance in Canada, Australia, and...
- Informal Practices of Accountability in Urban Africa
- Institutional Change in Advanced Democracies
- Intellectual Property in International Relations
- Interest Groups and Inequality in the United States
- Interest Groups in American Politics
- International Conflict Management
- International Criminal Justice
- International Law
- International NGOs
- International Political Economy of Illegal Drugs
- Internet and Politics, The
- Iran, Political Development of
- Israeli Politics
- Judicial Supremacy and National Judicial Review
- Judiciaries and Politics in East Asia
- Kant's Political Thought
- Labor Politics in East Asia
- Land Reform in Latin America
- Latin America, Democratic Transitions in
- Latin America, Environmental Policy and Politics in
- Latin America, Guerrilla Insurgencies in
- Latin America, Social Movements in
- Legal Mobilization
- LGBT Politics in the United States
- Liberal Pluralism
- Local Governments in the United States
- Machiavelli’s Political Thought
- Marx's Political Thought
- Mass Incarceration and US Politics
- Mechanisms of Representation
- Media Effects in Politics
- Media Politics in South Asia
- Minority Political Engagement and Representation in the Un...
- Modern Dynastic Rule
- Modern Elections and Voting Behavior in Europe
- National Interbranch Politics in the United States
- NATO, Politics of
- Neoclassical Realism
- New Institutionalism Revisited, The
- North America, Comparative Politics of
- Oil, Politics of
- Origins and Impact of Proportional Representation, The
- Outcomes of Social Movements and Protest Activities
- Partisan and Nonpartisan Theories of Organization in the U...
- Partisan Polarization in the US Congress
- Partisan Polarization in the US Electorate
- Party Networks
- Peace Operations
- Personality and Politics
- Plato's Political Thought
- Policy Responsiveness to Public Opinion
- Political Economy of Financial Regulation in Advanced Ind...
- Political Economy of Taxation, The
- Political Geography in American Politics
- Political Obligation
- Political Parties and Electoral Politics of Japan
- Political Thought, Hegel's
- Political Thought of the American Founders, The
- Politics and Policy in Contemporary Argentina
- Politics of Anti-Americanism
- Politics of Class Formation
- Politics of Disaster Prevention and Management
- Politics of Financial Crises
- Politics of Foreign Direct Investment in South Asia
- Politics of Higher Education in the U.S.
- Politics of Internal Conquest in the United States and Can...
- Politics of Japan
- Politics of Natural Disasters, The
- Politics of North Korea
- Politics of Science and Technology
- Politics of South Africa
- Politics of Southern Africa
- Postcolonialism and International Relations
- Post-Communist Democratization
- Preferential Trade Agreements, Politics of
- Presidential Persuasion and Public Opinion
- Presidential Primaries and Caucuses
- Private Governance
- Public Opinion in Advanced Industrial Democracies
- Public Opinion in New Democracies and Developing Nations
- Qualitative Methods, The Renewal of
- Race in American Political Thought
- Racial and Ethnic Descriptive Representation in the United...
- Regime Transitions and Variation in Post-Communist Europe
- Regional Integration in Latin America
- Regional Security
- Regulating Food Production
- Religion in American Political Thought
- Religion in Contemporary Political Thought
- Religion, Politics, and Civic Engagement in the United Sta...
- Rousseau's Political Thought
- Rule of Law
- Russia and the West
- Science and Democracy
- Social Policy and Immigrant Integration
- South Korea, Politics of
- Spectacle, The
- State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa
- State Formation
- State, The Nature of the
- Supreme Court of the United States, The
- Systemic Theories of International Politics
- Taiwan, Politics of
- Tea Party, The
- The New Right in American Political Thought
- Transitional Justice
- Turkey, Political Development of
- US Military Bases Abroad
- US Presidency, The
- Voter Turnout
- Welfare State Development
- Welfare State Development in Latin America
- Welfare State Development in Western Europe
- West Africa, Politics of
- Worker Politics in China
- Youth and Generational Differences in US Politics