The State in AfricaThe Politics of the Belly
The State in Africa
The Politics of the Belly, 2nd Edition
The State in Africa is one of the important and compelling texts of comparative politics and historical sociology of the last twenty years. Bayart rejects the assumption of African 'otherness' based on stereotyped images of famine, corruption and civil war. Instead he invites the reader to see that African politics is like politics anywhere else in the world, not an exotic aberration.

Africans themselves speak of a 'politics of the belly' - an expression that refers not only to the necessities of survival but also to a complex array of cultural representations, notably those of the 'invisible' world of sorcery. The 'politics of the belly' attests to a distinctively African trajectory of power that we need to understand as part of a long-term historical development.

While acknowledging the insights of Western social scientists from Weber to Foucault, Bayart never loses sight of the realities of African politics and social life and he is careful to allow African voices - from the 'small boy' in the street to the 'big men' in the presidential palaces - to speak for themselves.

This new edition of Bayart's classic book includes a new introduction on Africa in the world today.

This book has established itself as an indispensable text on the state and politics in Africa. It also provides a nuanced reading of what we have come to call 'development' and opens the way for a more general reflection on the invention of politics in African and Asian societies.
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More Info
  • July 2009
  • 420 pages
  • 153 x 230 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Paperback $46.75
  • 9780745644370
Table of Contents
Foreword by John Dunn


Preface to the second English edition (2009)

Preface to the first English edition (1993)

Preface to the original French edition (1989)


Part One: The Genesis of the State

Part Two: Scenarios in the Pursuit of Hegemony

Part Three: Political Action

Conclusion: Of Terroirs and Men

Notes Index

About the Author
Jean-Francois Bayart, Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Paris
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"For anyone who wishes to understand the politics of Africa, there is no better book from which to start."
Professor John Dunn, King’s College, Cambridge

"A masterpiece in Africanist literature."
Corruption and Reform

"Every now and then, something comes along which changes the way in which we think about our subject. Such a book is Jean-Francois Bayart's The State in Africa."
African Affairs

"This book should be read by all those (whether scholars or not) who are seriously concerned with understanding post-colonial African politics. Here, at last, is a book which goes beyond facile generalizations and intellectual or cultural prejudice, which respects rather than demeans Africa. The State in Africa is without doubt one of the most challenging books on contemporary Africa to have appeared in the last few years."
International Affairs

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