Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the longest occupied and least studied landscapes on earth. While scholarship has been attentive to images of nature made by the region’s explorers and settlers and to landscapes of the colonial era—public parks and game preserves, botanical gardens and urban plans—surprisingly little attention has been paid to spaces created by and for Africans themselves, from the precolonial era to the present.
This book is a contribution to a small but growing effort to address this oversight. Its essays present a range of landscapes: pathways and cairns used by nomadic peoples to navigate through and mark significant places; anthropogenic or managed forests consecrated to ritual purposes of various kinds; tombs or palaces with significant landscape orientations and components; even monumental ceremonial and urban spaces, as at Great Zimbabwe or Djenne. They explore what we know of precolonial and later indigenous designed landscapes, how these landscapes were understood in the colonial era, and how they are being recuperated today for nation building, identity formation, and cultural affirmation. Contributors engage with the most critical issues in preservation today, from the conflicts between cultural heritage and biodiversity protection to the competition between local and international heritage agendas.
This first extensive study of the practice of blood transfusion in Africa traces the history of one of the most important therapies in modern medicine from the period of colonial rule to independence and the AIDS epidemic. The introduction of transfusion held great promise for improving health, but like most new medical practices, transfusion needed to be adapted to the needs of sub-Saharan Africa, for which there was no analogous treatment in traditional African medicine.
This otherwise beneficent medical procedure also created a “royal road” for microorganisms, and thus played a central part in the emergence of human immune viruses in epidemic form. As with more developed health care systems, blood transfusion practices in sub-Saharan Africa were incapable of detecting the emergence of HIV. As a result, given the wide use of transfusion, it became an important pathway for the initial spread of AIDS. Yet African health officials were not without means to understand and respond to the new danger, thanks to forty years of experience and a framework of appreciating long-standing health risks. The response to this risk, detailed in this book, yields important insight into the history of epidemics and HIV/AIDS.
Drawing on research from colonial-era governments, European Red Cross societies, independent African governments, and directly from health officers themselves, this book is the only historical study of the practice of blood transfusion in Africa.
“No condition is permanent,” a popular West African slogan, expresses Sara S. Berry’s theme: the obstacles to African agrarian development never stay the same. Her book explores the complex way African economy and society are tied to issues of land and labor, offering a comparative study of agrarian change in four rural economies in sub-Saharan Africa, including two that experienced long periods of expanding peasant production for export (southern Ghana and southwestern Nigeria), a settler economy (central Kenya), and a rural labor reserve (northeastern Zambia).
The resources available to African farmers have changed dramatically over the course of the twentieth century. Berry asserts that the ways resources are acquired and used are shaped not only by the incorporation of a rural area into colonial (later national) and global political economies, but also by conflicts over culture, power, and property within and beyond rural communities. By tracing the various debates over rights to resources and their effects on agricultural production and farmers’ uses of income, Berry presents agrarian change as a series of on-going processes rather than a set of discrete “successes” and “failures.”
No Condition Is Permanent enriches the discussion of agrarian development by showing how multidisciplinary studies of local agrarian history can constructively contribute to development policy. The book is a contribution both to African agrarian history and to debates over the role of agriculture in Africa’s recent economic crises.
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