Globalization is a contested concept and phenomenon. At its most basic it refers to increased interconnection between places or the increased stretching of social relations over distance, as mediated through, for example, flows of goods, finance, people, ideas, and forms of social organization. However, the precise content, nature, and impacts, of this phenomenon are highly debated. Africa is often conceived of as a recipient of globalization, rather than a source region of the phenomenon. However, accounts which critique the “impact model” of globalization on the continent have recently become more influential as have those which emphasize its recursive nature. There are a variety of channels through which globalization is constituted and expressed. These include economic, political, and social.
Globalization is often thought to be a recent phenomenon. However it has been in existence for centuries. Wright 2004 examines the history of the phenomenon through a focus on a small locality in Gambia in West Africa. Assefa, et al. 2001 provides a comprehensive overview of the issue and its relationship to democracy and development. Carmody 2010 examines the phenomenon through a focus on particular themes, such as the “mobile phone revolution.” Cheru 2002 argues that globalization can be beneficial for Africa, if carefully managed by state elites. Ferguson 2006 unpacks globalization to argue that investment flows, for example, “hop” from place to place and hence interconnections with the outside world are selective and enclaved rather than homogenizing. Adésínà, et al. 2006 focus specifically on the New Partnership for African Development which was touted as a new way for the continent to engage with the process of globalization.
Adésínà, Jìmí, Yao Graham, and Adebayo Olukoshi, eds. Africa and Development: Challenges in the New Millennium: The NEPAD Debate. Dakar, Senegal: CODESRIA, 2006.
This book, with contributions by leading African scholars, examines the nature and likelihood of success of the New Partnership for African Development which was proposed and created by a number of African leaders, including former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, and which is in the process as of 2018 of becoming the African Union Development Agency.
Assefa, Taye, Severine M. Rugumamu, and Abdel Ghaffer Ahmed, eds. Globalization, Democracy, and Development in Africa. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa, 2001.
This edited book provides an excellent overview of the issues by mostly Africa-based scholars.
Bond, Patrick. Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation. London: Zed Books, 2006.
This book by one of the world’s foremost political economists of Africa provides a relatively short and accessible introduction to the way in which the continent has been historically, and is currently, exploited by outside powers and companies.
Carmody, Pádraig. Globalization in Africa: Recolonization or Renaissance? Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2010.
Globalization on the continent has been substantially reconfigured in recent decades, particularly through the diffusion of new technologies, such as mobile phones, the rise of the importance of emerging powers on the continent, debt relief, and other vectors. Carmody examines these phenomena and suggests there is a “new scalar alignment” of global, regional and sometimes national factors which are more favorable to economic growth, if not development.
Cheru, Fantu. African Renaissance: Roadmaps to the Challenge of Globalization. London: Zed Books, 2002.
Much of the literature on Africa in the 1980s and 1990s was characterized by “Afro-pessimism.” In this important book Cheru disputes this reading of the continent’s current history and examines both progress which has been made and further potentiality for globalization to contribute to development on the continent.
Ferguson, James. Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.
James Ferguson is a renowned anthropologist who unpacks the nature of globalization on the continent and challenges conventional wisdom in this important book. In particular he disputes overly simplified accounts of the “marginalization” of the continent by showing how many Africans are active in transnational communities.
Grant, Richard. Africa: Geographies of Change. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
This outstanding, comprehensive and accessible book covers a variety of topics from the environment through to the “scramble” for African Resources and the mobile phone ‘revolution’ on the continent. Eschewing Afro-pessimistic accounts, this book presents a realistic picture of the problems and potentialities of African development under globalization.
Hart, Gillian. Disabling Globalization: Places of Power in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.
Through drawing on broader lessons from local case studies in South Africa, Hart argues against what she calls the “impact model” of globalization in favor of a rich ethnography of the phenomenon which examines the ways in which spatial interconnections are differently ordered, with different results despite ostensible similarity in initial conditions. Thus “globalization” is locally constructed, with greater fluidity and potential for different outcomes than is commonly imagined.
Wright, Donald. The World and a Very Small Place in Africa: A History of Globalization in Niumi, The Gambia. 2d ed. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2004.
Globalization is often through to be an overwhelming and deterritorialized force. Wright contests this by grounding his study in a particular locality in the smallest country in mainland Africa, the Gambia. He shows how rather than being remote from global forces, this place has been deeply connected and produced through them, such as through the slave trade.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Achebe, Chinua
- Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi
- African Socialism
- Africans in the Atlantic World
- Aid and Economic Development
- Arab Spring
- Arabic Language and Literature
- Archaeology and the Study of Africa
- Archaeology of Central Africa
- Archaeology of Eastern Africa
- Archaeology of Southern Africa
- Archaeology of West Africa
- Art, Art History, and the Study of Africa
- Arts of Central Africa
- Arts of Western Africa
- Asante and the Akan and Mossi States
- Bantu Expansion
- Benin (Dahomey)
- Botswana (Bechuanaland)
- Brink, André
- British Colonial Rule in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Burkina Faso (Upper Volta)
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Children and Childhood
- China in Africa
- Christianity, African
- Cinema and Television
- Coetzee, J.M.
- Colonial Rule, Belgian
- Colonial Rule, French
- Colonial Rule, German
- Colonial Rule, Italian
- Colonial Rule, Portuguese
- Communism, Marxist-Leninism, and Socialism in Africa
- Comoro Islands
- Conflict Management and Resolution
- Congo, Republic of (Congo Brazzaville)
- Congo River Basin States
- Conservation and Wildlife
- Crime and the Law in Colonial Africa
- Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire)
- Development of Early Farming and Pastoralism
- Diaspora, Kongo Atlantic
- Disease and African Society
- Early States And State Formation In Africa
- Early States of the Western Sudan
- Economy, Informal
- Education and the Study of Africa
- Egypt, Ancient
- Environmental History
- Equatorial Guinea
- Ethnicity and Politics
- Europe and Africa, Medieval
- Family Planning
- Farah, Nuruddin
- Food and Food Production
- Fugard, Athol
- Genocide in Rwanda
- Geography and the Study of Africa
- Gikuyu (Kikuyu) People of Kenya
- Gordimer, Nadine
- Great Lakes States of Eastern Africa, The
- Hausa Language and Literature
- Health, Medicine, and the Study of Africa
- Historiography and Methods of African History
- History and the Study of Africa
- Ijo/Niger Delta
- Image of Africa, The
- Indian Ocean and Middle Eastern Slave Trades
- Indian Ocean Trade
- Invention of Tradition
- Iron Working and the Iron Age in Africa
- Islam in Africa
- Islamic Politics
- Kongo and the Coastal States of West Central Africa
- Language and the Study of Africa
- Law, Islamic
- Literature and the Study of Africa
- Lord's Resistance Army
- Maasai and Maa-Speaking Peoples of East Africa, The
- Mau Mau
- Media and Journalism
- Military History
- Modern African Literature in European Languages
- Music, Dance, and the Study of Africa
- Music, Traditional
- Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
- North Africa from 600 to 1800
- North Africa to 600
- Northeastern African States, c. 1000 BCE-1800 CE
- Obama and Kenya
- Oman, the Gulf, and East Africa
- Oral and Written Traditions, African
- Police and Policing
- Political Science and the Study of Africa
- Political Systems, Precolonial
- Popular Culture and the Study of Africa
- Popular Music
- Population and Demography
- Postcolonial Sub-Saharan African Politics
- Religion and Politics in Contemporary Africa
- Seychelles, The
- Slave Trade, Atlantic
- Slavery in Africa
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Study of Africa
- South Africa Post c. 1850
- Southern Africa to c. 1850
- Soyinka, Wole
- Spanish Colonial Rule
- States of the Zimbabwe Plateau and Zambezi Valley
- Sudan and South Sudan
- Swahili City-States of the East African Coast
- Swahili Language and Literature
- Tanzania (Tanganyika and Zanzibar)
- Traditional Religion, African
- Trans-Saharan Trade
- Urbanism and Urbanization
- Wars and Warlords
- Western Sahara
- Women and African History
- Women and Colonialism
- Women and Politics
- Women and Slavery
- Women, Gender and the Study of Africa
- Women in 19th-Century West Africa
- Yoruba Language and Literature
- Yoruba States, Benin, and Dahomey