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Edited by Hein-Anton van der Heijden
Chapter 25: Social movements and political citizenship in Africa
Is Africa ‘rising’ as a great new economic power, or is the continent better seen as witnessing early – and potentially widespread – ‘uprisings’, in a context of worsening economic conditions (understood in the broadest sense), as climate catastrophe also bears down on a billion Africans? Reading the business press, one would not know that Africa is losing an estimated 6 per cent of its wealth each year, thanks to the ‘resource curse’. You would be forgiven for having the opposite impression when reading most reports from elite Afro-optimists, namely those with proglobalization, export-oriented, petro-minerals–centric economic ideologies, especially because these reports invariably ignore the dangers to most African countries from climate change, and because they discount social unrest. For example, most multilateral financial institutions celebrate Africa’s national economies as among the world’s leading cases of ‘recovery’ after the 2008–09 meltdown, and most (though not all) ignore signs of growing discontent. The neoliberal position neglects several dangers that have made Africa’s supposedly resilient economies far more vulnerable to both global and local economic and environmental crises, and hence neoliberals cannot comprehend social movement resistances now developing in response.
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