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National identity and democracy in Africa

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Abstract(English): "This is not a contribution to nation-building. I hope it helps disrupt nation-building". These words by film-maker Zackie Ahmat gave a kick-start to the discussions at the international conference on "National Identity and Democracy" held at the University of the Western Cape 14-18 March 1997, and they also introduce the theme for the book with some of the best contributions to the conference. Ahmat's understanding of "nation-building" was the kind of cultural homogenisation ordered from above which has been the rule in many parts of the world, not least in Africa. Nation-building has here often been been a hypocritical cloak for the hegemony of an elite, sometimes mobilising support from just one cultural group. By the title of the conference the organisers wanted to invite a discussion both on the insight that building a nation and building democracy are not necessarily twins, and on the risks of the misuse of power in the name of the nation. South Africa represents a possible and hopeful departure from the homogenisation model, with its explicit pluralism expressed in the adoption of 11 official languages. Six of the papers deal with the South African experiment, with an examination of the policy of non-racialism and the specific challenges posed by migrant workers, group identities and the themes of gender and nation. Other chapters are case studies from national identity formation on the contested cultural terrain in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Angola, Nigeria, and Tanzania. The book also contains an annotated bibliography.
CONTENTS: Preface -- Introduction -- PART I. INVENTING THE NATION'S PAST -- History, the Arts and the Problem of National Identity: Reflections on Kenya in the 1970s and 1980s / Kimani Gecau, Harare -- How the National Became Popular in Tanzania / Siri Lange, Bergen -- The National landscape: a Cultural European Invention / Svend Erik Larsen, Odense -- The Question fo identity during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) in the Fiction of Flora Nwapa and Ken Saro-Wiwa / Raisa Simola, Joensuu -- Part II. IDENTITIES AND TRANSFORMATION -- The Language of Africa-Centered Knowledge in South Africa: Universalism, Relativism and Dependency / Ousseina Alidou & Alamin Mazrui, Columbus Ohio -- War and the Negotiation of Gendered Identities in Angola / Horace Campbell, Syracuse -- Conceptualising Coloured Identitites in the Western Cape Province of South Africa / Zimitri Erasmus & Edgar Pieterse, Cape Town -- Intimate Transformations: Romance, Gender and Nation / Maria Olaussen, Åbo -- From Masters to Minoirites: The Swedish-speaking Finns and the Afrikaans-speaking Whites / Mai Palmberg, Uppsala -- Part III. THE SOUTH AFRICAN EXPERIMENT -- Nation-building Discourse in a Democracy / Bredan P. Boyce, Durban -- The Notion of 'Nation' and the Practice of 'Nation-building' in Post-Apartheid South Africa / Gerhard Maré, Durban -- Do Diverse Social Identitites Inhibit Nationhood and Democrasy?: Initial Considerations from South Africa / Robert Mattes, Cape Town -- Strangers at the Cattle Post: State Nationalism and Migrant Identity in Post-Apartheid South Africa / Michael Neocosmos, Gaborone -- Advancing Non-racialism in Post-Apartheid South Africa / Rupert Taylor, Johannesburg and Don Foster, Cape Town -- Select annotated bibliography / Petra Smitmanis, Stockholm -- About the authors.
Authors: Nordic Africa Institute
Type: Conference proceedings (editor)
Subject: Africa; National identity; Democracy; Migration
Social Sciences

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