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The Criminalization of the State in Africa (African Issues) Paperback – 21 Jan 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: James Currey; First Edition reprint edition (21 Jan. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0852558120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852558126
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 895,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


The extent to which the trends identified in this book grow or diminish in importance and geographical extent seems to be a major determinant of the future of African politics. - John A. Wiseman in THE JOURNAL OF MODERN AFRCAN STUDIES It is without doubt concerned with a topic of great importance, about which much is rumoured but little of analytical substance is written ... These are difficult questions and the authors must be applauded for having attempted to make sense of their complexities. - Patrick Chabal in INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS What is positive about this book is that it not only presents a number of cases but also shows their historical, economic and cultural connections. The present problems are seen from a wide perspective stemming from precolonial and colonial situations as well as the situations created by independence struggles and the reign of nationalistic governments. What is suggested is that all this should be viewed in the light of historical continuity rather than discontinuity. AFRICA THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

About the Author

Jean-Francois Bayart is Director of the Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationals, Paris.Stephen Ellis is a Senior Researcher at the African Studies Centre at Leiden and former editor of Africa Confidential.Beatrice Hibou is a Fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique attached to the Centre d'Etudes d'Afrique Noir, Bordeaux." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Paperback
The thesis explored in this short book is that the states of Africa are becoming fused with the world of international organised crime, as defined by international norms. While the authors claim that few fully "criminal" states exist, they do detect a tendency in this direction, which they link to the privatisation of economic and state functions and the rise of global flows. The book is divided into four chapters. The introductory chapter, by all three authors, gives a general overview, explains the thesis, and situates events in their broader context. Jean-Francois Bayart contributes a chapter on the state and politics, linking it to historical trends (which he terms an accumulation of social capital) and the everyday knowledge, or metis, connected to these trends. Beatrice Hibou contributes a chapter on economics and criminalisation. This chapter explores how African societies have absorbed externally-imposed economic forms, and how reforms aimed to end corruption have had the opposite effect of encouraging criminalisation. It also lists a variety of illegal and informal practices, looks at the role of social networks, and explores the privatisation of administrative functions. Inbetween these chapters is a rather anomalous piece by Stephen Ellis on South Africa, which primarily serves to outline how criminal organisations arose from the rival strategies of the ANC and the apartheid government to win support or control in urban ghettos.

The strength of this book is its empirical and discursive focus and its avoidance of the temptation to slip into moralising despair and to reduce the meaning of phenomena to their meaning for western observers. It also provides clear structural explanations of the trends it analyses.
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Format: Paperback
Although published ten years ago, this book is still a powerful description of the way the institutions of African states can be corrupted to the point where they become entirely dysfunctional and oppressive of their own citizens. It deals with the internal and external factors including the IFIs, donors and businesses tending to create these conditions of decay.

The phenomena are familiar to those who follow African affairs now; in a few cases the process has proved reversible or at least stoppable; but not in most.
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Format: Paperback
an excellent description of what actually takes place underneath the veneer of formal state machinery, a must read for us realists out there, and a damming indictment of prescriptions for naive quick-fix IMF and World Bank led solutions. Quite depressing actually.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criminal States and State's Criminals in Africa 15 Feb. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Drawing extensively on first-hand fieldwork in several African states (namely Cameroon, Liberia, Sierra-Leone) and on a truely impressive array of high-level academic works, this book offers a deeply stimulating analysis of contemporary state-formation processes in Africa. It shows that war itself can become the vehicle of a far-reaching reorganization of political allegiances and life-styles, which at last consolidates the state apparatus by helping it to reach out to new sources of wealth. Army-backed criminal business ventures in border-zones and the use of private militias to help secure ressource-rich territories are seen as a defining feature of contemporary African power-systems. The authors, who all are leading european political scientists already well known in the field of African Studies, aptly show how these current transformations of war and state-sponsored criminality lead to the risk of region-wide violences. The relationship between petty thugs, professional mercenaries and state officials is highly unstable, but also extremely efficient as far as the reaping out of natural resources (such as diamonds) is at stake. The authors also demonstrate that the International Monetary Fund so-called "structural adjustment programs" didn't manage in getting rid of corruption practices, but that, on the contrary, they helped local and overseas financial crooks devise new schemes of underground economic transactions. The whole book is full of gloomy details about state-terror and financial mismanagement practices in Sub-saharian Africa. It is also very well-written and therefore remains accessible to a wide readers' audience. It is a necessary reading for those who are interested both in African politics and in the analysis of Third-World post-colonial states.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Departure From Traditional African Studies 27 Feb. 2002
By ChairmanLuedtke - Published on
Format: Paperback
The best essay in the book is Beatrice Hibou's, on the nature of the African state. She terms the 1980s as Africa's "lost decade," and views development strategies of economic growth that ignore social and consequences as being politically destabilizing. But her conception of the triggering mechanism for this destabilization is much different from that of most traditional political scientists (like Samuel Huntington's, for instance) perhaps owing to the different historical contexts in which they write (the institution-building of the 1960s versus the institutional decay of the 1990s).
Huntington and other past scholars posit that under conditions of economic stimulus in a modernizing society, social mobilization is the trigger for destabilization. Hibou, however, points to the nature of the African state itself as being responsible for political instability under conditions of economic stimulus. In other words, neoliberal market stimulus fails in Africa not because of mobilized citizens whose demands cannot be met, but because of the complex nature of the African state.
What is Hibou's conception of the African state, and how does it differ from Huntington's? Huntington tends to see the state in terms of how "institutionalized" it is, with a well-institutionalized state presumably having well-functioning formal political institutions that are adaptable, complex, autonomous and coherent. Hibou, however, goes far beyond a conventional political science view of institutions, by conceptualizing the African state as a "shadow" state:
"the relationships, institutions and people most prominently in public view are not necessarily the most powerful. Elements which at first sight appear to be obstacles to the functioning of the state may turn out, on closer inspection, actually to belong to the state . . . via a web of informal concessions, carefully negotiated privileges - notably including impunity for economic offences - and personal and political relationships" (88-89).
Accordingly, Hibou argues that neoliberalism has failed in Africa because it fails to take account of the state's informal shadow as an economic actor. In seeking to tie the hands of formal state actors to prevent conventional "rent-seeking" behavior, neoliberals have given more power to the informal sector, which tends to engage in economic activity that may not only be "rent-seeking," but also "criminal" by many standards. Neoliberalism thus destroys formal institutions in Africa, and encourages "the development of personal networks, of informal or even illegal practices" (93).
Thus, unlike Huntington's theory that social mobilization coupled with economic inequality destabilizes developing polities, Hibou posits instead that the nature of African states should be given prime explanatory weight in showing why economic stimulus might produce results opposite to those intended.
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book on African studies 18 April 2013
By Adenrele Iposu - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am still reading the book.However the author seems to know the issues around African politics and its implication for governance and economic development
5.0 out of 5 stars criminalization of the state in africa 16 Dec. 2008
By John Cann - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an extremely well-written book and a superlative translation that ably describes the dynamics of kleptrocracy. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 26 Jun. 2015
By cleo - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good read....
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