Unisa Press

Researching Power and Identity in African State Formation

Comparative Perspectives

Author: Doornbos, M. R. & Van Binsbergen, W. M. J.
Published: March 01, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-86888-657-9
Number of pages: 544
Prices: R 643 | $ 49 | £ 48 | € 40
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About the book

The book illuminates key aspects of how, historically, the dynamics of power and identity interact in the African context, generating the kind of political structures and collective actions that have often appeared characteristic for the continent. It examines some salient dimensions of the broader frameworks of hegemony and power imposed upon African societies in the context of larger geopolitical and historical processes.  Power and identity are two key concepts which can be applied in describing African realities. The interaction and connections between the two concepts are, moreover, of key importance in the African context, as their studies demonstrate.

In common with other scholars in this area of study, the authors acknowledge that underlying their work is a compelling fascination with the continent’s evolving social and cultural forms. Their insight into African social reality reflects a fragile and fragmented continent capable of bringing forth a great variety of agents and actors in the interplay of social and political power: power vested in a variety of groups, ethnicities, religions or classes, with potential to impose on the identity of others.

About the authors

Martin Doornbos (PhD, University of California, Berkeley) is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands, and Visiting Professor of Development Studies, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda. His research interests have broadly focused on the dynamics of state-society relations in Africa and India, on the institutional dimensions of conflict and collaboration, the politics of resource allocation, and on questions of state collapse and post-conflict reconstruction.

Wim van Binsbergen is an anthropologist, presently working on the theory and method of research on cultural globalisation, especially in connection with virtuality, Information and Communication Technology, ethnicity and religion. His project on 'Africa's Contribution to Global Systems of Knowledge: An Epistemology for African Studies in the Twenty-First Century', provides a link between his research at the ASC and his chair in Foundations of Intercultural Philosophy at Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

Table of content



Part Introduction 

1          ‘Big-man’ and his big brother: Some notes on incorporation by Martin Doornbos 

2          The post-colonial state, ‘state penetration’ and the Nkoya experience in Western Central Zambia by Wim van Binsbergen 

3          Recurring penetration strategies in East Africa by Martin Doornbos 

4          Aspects of modern state penetration in Africa by Wim van Binsbergen 




Part introduction 

5          Some conceptual problems concerning ethnicity in integration analysis by Martin Doornbos 

6          From tribe to ethnicity in Western Zambia: The unit of study as an ideological problem by Wim van Binsbergen 

7          Kumanyana and Rwenzururu: Two responses to ethnic inequality in Uganda by Martin Doornbos 

8          The Kazanga festival: Ethnicity as cultural mediation and transformation in Western Central Zambia by Wim van Binsbergen 

9          Rwenzururu protest songs by Martin Doornbos and Peter Cooke 

10        Nkoya royal chiefs and the Kazanga cultural association in Western Central Zambia today: Resilience, decline, or folklorisation? by Wim van Binsbergen 

11        The Ankole kingship question: Stalemate and Implications by Martin Doornbos 




Part introduction 

12        Fortunes and failures in state formation: Contrasting the jihads of Usman dan Fodio and Mohammed Abdulle Hassan by Martin Doornbos 

13        Religious innovation and political conflict in Zambia: The Lumpa rising by Wim van Binsbergen 

14        Church and state in Eastern Africa: Some unresolved questions Martin Doornbos 

15        African Independent churches and the state in Botswana Wim van Binsbergen 


Introduction to Part IV 

16       Form and ideology in first-generation constitutional preambles: Some francophone African examples Martin Doornbos, Wim  van Binsbergen & Gerti Hesseling 

17       Aspects of democracy and democratisation in Zambia and Botswana: Exploring African political  culture at the grassroots Wim van Binsbergen 

18       Enquiring into African statehood, conflict and legitimacy, with particular reference to Somalia and Uganda Martin Doornbos 


19           Conclusion

Wim van Binsbergen & Martin Doornbos 

Notes 448

Cumulative bibliography 482

Index 529