Dr. Bhaso Ndzendze — University of Johannesburg

Africa: The Continent we Construct

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Introduction, p. 11
A Very South African Institution, p. 21
Cycles, p. 43
Empires, p. 65
A Post-Cold War Formulation, p. 95
East/West: A False Dichotomy, p. 115
China and African Democracy, p. 137
Continental Justice, p. 169
Doing Business, p. 185


This book is composed of timely assessments that shine a light on the rickety nature of the notion of Africa. As the author argues, Africa is essentially an epistemic shorthand for a set of ideas that have been externally constructed and subsequently self-reproduced from within the more than fifty countries located within it. In their wake and persistence, they represent missed opportunities to re-understand the changing fundamental elements of many of these countries in the twenty-first century. Moreover, they lead to scholars missing the continent’s various contributions to a set of long-standing ideas – particularly democracy, political agency and sovereignty. In eight richly empirical and data-driven studies, these concepts are shown to be manifest in the continent in uneven ways which should enlighten us in how best to look for them where they are otherwise absent on the continent. Cast in this manner, observers can rightly place trends in the countries of the continent in their global manifestation and, where empirically consistent, in their continental nuances.