Strength Beyond Structure: Social and Historical Trajectories of Agency in Africa

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Mirjam De Bruijn, Rijk Van Dijk, Jan Bart Gewald
BRILL, 2007 - Social Science - 344 pages
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This book explores the notion of agency in a range of empirical situations in Africa. Agency directs our quest for an understanding of the dynamics and social transformations of African situations to the domains of creativity, inventiveness and reflexivity. It emphasizes the possibilities individuals and social groups perceive when faced with the constraints that tend to mark African social life. The case studies provide an alternative view of people and society in Africa by looking at the ways social strength is created in the hope of overcoming many of the structural limitations encountered in daily life. 'Strength beyond Structure' challenges the optimism that is engrained in the development rhetoric about Africa by making agency the subject of empirical scrutiny.
 

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Contents

Dreams and agency during Angolas War of Independence
62
A Herero royal and Namibian
83
A comparative approach
114
La transformation
144
From individual act to social agency in San trance rituals
163
The dynamics of families their work and provisioning
189
Agency and nature conservation in South
215
A local quest for safety
240
Street children and youth
263
Negotiating the memory of Fulbe hierarchy among mobile
285
The safe and suffering body in transnational Ghanaian
312
Epilogue
334
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About the author (2007)

Mirjam de Bruijn, Ph.D. (1995) Utrecht University, is an Anthropologist at the African Studies Centre in Leiden. Her work on nomadism, children and youth, mobility, (in)security, poverty, and social and economic in- and exclusion has an interdisciplinary character. She has done extensive fieldwork in Chad and Mali. Rijk van Dijk, Ph.D. (1992) Utrecht University, is an anthropologist at the African Studies Centre where he researches the rise of new religious movements in Africa, particularly Pentecostalism, in relation to globalization, transnational connections and youth. He has published widely on the emergence of Pentecostal movements in Malawi, Ghana and, more recently, Botswana.Jan-Bart Gewald, Ph.D. (1996) University of Leiden, is a historian at the African Studies Centre, Leiden. He has published extensively on aspects of African history and is currently focusing on the history of the relationship between people and technology in Africa.

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