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African FuturesEssays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility$
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Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402246

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

Africa Otherwise

Africa Otherwise

(p.23) Two Africa Otherwise
African Futures

Janet Roitman

University of Chicago Press

How one might think Africa otherwise than under the sign of “crisis?” This question is taken up in an exploratory and somewhat provocative manner through a review of the notion of "crisis" as it is presently mobilized in social science narratives across. Through this conceptual exploration, I argue that the concept of crisis -- in the sense of political crisis or economic crisis -- has come to serve as both a metaphor and placeholder in academic and popular discourse in the social sciences generally, and in Africa particularly. Crisis is posited as a way of characterizing “history” itself; it is claimed to serve as a means to access both the significance of history and meaning in history. But, as I aim to show, devoid of heuristic power, “crisis” is a metaphor that is symptomatic of the insufficiencies inherent to contemporary analytics of both politics and economic life. Africa, in particular, is now represented under the sign of crisis, which does little to explain current configurations of political economy on the continent, entailing various modes of producing value and validating modes of regulation, or livelihoods.

Keywords:   crisis, critique, narrative, history, economy

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