Power and Politics in Africa: A Boundary Generator

by Takuo Iwata (Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan)

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The power to define, regulate, and contest boundaries lies at the very heart of politics. In this richly detailed and well-researched book, Takuo Iwata offers insightful evidence from African international relations to illuminate this dynamic and its implications for democratisation, citizenship and belonging.

Francis B. Nyamnjoh
Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cape Town

In this book, Takuo Iwata has succeeded in integrating a large amount of material in a way that enables him to bridge the traditional divide between comparative politics and international relations. The result is a work of great importance for anyone who is interested in African politics.

Mamoudou Gazibo
Professor, Department of Political Science
University of Montreal

This is an impressive product of research on power in African politics and international relations. The author insightfully observes the transformation of boundaries in the Global South. He has very effectively used power as a boundary marker in multiple areas of African polity. A very refreshing out-of-the-track work by the author.

Ajay Dubey
President: African Studies Association of India
Professor, School of International Studies & Former Rector (Pro-Vice Chancellor)
Jawaharlal Nehru University

«Power» is the guiding concept of this book that finds a marvellous balance between global overviews about international connections and local case studies at the same time, all by dealing with some of the most important entangled topics of contemporary Africa: democratization, decentralization, border conflicts, international cooperation from a regional to an international scale including Asia. The last chapter adds a new and important aspect of humour in various genres dealing with power.

Ute Fendler
Professor, Romance Literature and Comparative Studies
University of Bayreuth

Iwata gives us a sweeping and innovative approach to Africa’s borders. Borders mediate political possibilities and the placement of power. They constitute both a regulatory device and the shape of regime change. Borders rest at intersections of subnational power relations, and they obscure a more nuanced analysis of Africa’s varied relations with Asia. Decolonization, democratization, and decentralization may have transformed political institutions. But Iwata’s rich field research and deep reflection remind us that we cannot understand Africa’s changing role in a globalized world unless our understanding is grounded in a new theory of power.

Carl LeVan
Professor, Department of Politics, Governance and Economics
American University

Africa attracts the world with its potential and challenges in the 21st century. The political situation became more diverse on the African continent than in the 20th century between democracy and authoritarianism and between peace and tragic conflict. Understanding African politics’ engine, logic, and mechanism becomes more meaningful and required. This is a comprehensive book on African Politics and International Relations that focuses on the concept of power by covering politics, geography, sociology, and anthropology perspectives. This book is built through the author’s three decades of fieldwork, document work, and conference presentations in African, Asian, and Western countries. This book is expected to be read by professional academic scholars, graduate and undergraduate students in classrooms, diplomats, government officers, journalists, and NGO staff who want to deepen their understanding of politics and international relations in/with Africa.

List of Abbreviations
List of Tables
List of Figures
Political Map of Africa
Chapter 1. Reflection on the Concept of Power as a Boundary Generator in African Politics
Chapter 2. Revisiting Democratization in Contemporary African Politics — Boundaries between Political Regimes —
Chapter 3. Political Impact of Decentralization in Africa — Redrawing Boundaries in Local Politics —
Chapter 4. Borders in Africa’s International Relations — Reflection on the Borders of the French Colony Upper Volta —
Chapter 5. Borders and Regional Security in Local Governments’ Cooperation in West Africa — Boundaries and Bridges —
Chapter 6. Transforming Asia–Africa Relations — Old and New Boundaries —
Chapter 7. Laughter as a Political Communication Intermediary in Africa — Boundary between Laughing and Being Laughed at —
Conclusion. Power and Politics in Africa: Past, Present, and Future

Takuo Iwata, Ph.D. is a professor in Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto, Japan). He teaches politics and international relations in Africa and Asia-Africa relations at undergraduate and graduate schools. Dr. Iwata’s extensive research encompasses political power, democratization, decentralization, border issues, South-South Cooperation, and cultural acts (laughter) in politics and international relations in/with Africa. He has conducted his field research mainly in Francophone West African countries for three decades, and in Western and Asian countries. He has published books and articles: 'Democratic Transition and Civil Society in Africa' (Takuo Iwata, Kokusai Shoin, 2004, in Japanese), and 'New Asian Approaches to Africa' (Ed., Takuo Iwata, Vernon Press, 2020).

Political Power, Boundary, Territorial Border, Democratization, Decentralization, Asia–Africa Relations, Laughter in African Politics, History, Culture, and Society