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Africa in the Post-Cold War World

This week’s seminar considers the relationships between African societies and the wider world in the period after the end of the Cold War. It focuses on three themes: democratisation, globalisation and security. The lecture and seminar will discuss the extent to which economic and political reforms of the 1980s and 1990s were driven by external actors. We will also consider the ways in which security concerns have been used to extend external influence in certain settings.

Lecture notes

For a detailed case examining globalisation and development in a current setting, listen to the BBC's In Business episode from last year, 'The Second Hand Clothes War.'

For a perspective from East Africa on this same topic, see Esther Katende-Magezi, 'The Impact of Second Hand Clothes and Shoes in East Africa,' report for CUTS International (Geneva, 2017).

Seminar questions:

To what extent does colonialism continue to influence the course of events in contemporary African societies?

How important were external actors to the democratisation witnessed in many African countries in the early 1990s?

To what extent have African societies been able to make ‘a strong case for the effective globalisation of opportunities’ (Nyamnjoh)?


Nic Cheeseman, Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failures, and the Struggle for Political Reform (Cambridge, 2015), chapter 4, ‘Exporting Elections: International Donors and the Era of Democratic Dependency’.

Francis Nyamnjoh, “For Many are Called but Few are Chosen’: Globalisation and Popular Disenchantment in Africa,’ African Sociological Review, 4, 2 (2000), 1-45.

Elizabeth Schmidt, Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror (Cambridge, 2013), chapter 8, ‘From the Cold War to the War on Terror, 1991-2010.’