African Politics: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780198806578

Ian Taylor
152 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Sep 2018
Very Short Introductions


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  • Introduces African politics, providing an overview of the different states and their systems
  • Explores the contemporary and historical influences on African politics, such as colonialism
  • Explains how regional identity often dominates politics in Africa
  • Considers democracy and political reform in Africa, and the role of women in African politics

Africa is a continent of 54 countries and over a billion people. However, despite the rich diversity of the African experience, it is striking that continuations and themes seem to be reflected across the continent, particularly south of the Sahara. Questions of underdevelopment, outside exploitation, and misrule are characteristic of many - if not most-states in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

In this Very Short Introduction Ian Taylor explores how politics is practiced on the African continent, considering the nature of the state in Sub-Saharan Africa and why its state structures are generally weaker than elsewhere in the world. Exploring the historical and contemporary factors which account for Africa's underdevelopment, he also analyses why some African countries suffer from high levels of political violence while others are spared. Unveilling the ways in which African state and society actually function beyond the formal institutional façade, Taylor discusses how external factors - both inherited and contemporary - act upon the continent.


1.: Introduction to Africa and its politics
2.: Pre-colonial political systems and colonialism
3.: The transfer of power and the colonial legacy
4.: The primacy of paronage politics
5.: Women in African politics
6.: The role of identity in politics
7.: The military and politics
8.: Democracy and political reform
9.: Africa's international relations
Further reading

About the author: 

Ian Taylor, Professor in International Relations and African Political Economy at the University of St Andrews
Ian Taylor has published numerous books on African politics and international relations.As well as being Professor in International Relations and African Political Economy at the University of St Andrews he is Chair Professor in the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China, and Professor Extraordinary in Political Science at the University of Stellenbosch. He previously taught African politics and development subjects at the University of Botswana and has also taught at the University of Addis Ababa and Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda. He has conducted research in and/or visited 41 African countries.

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