The Politics of Custom: Chiefship, Capital, and the State in Contemporary Africa

Front Cover
John L. Comaroff, Jean Comaroff
University of Chicago Press, Mar 8, 2018 - History - 361 pages
How are we to explain the resurgence of customary chiefs in contemporary Africa? Rather than disappearing with the tide of modernity, as many expected, indigenous sovereigns are instead a rising force, often wielding substantial power and legitimacy despite major changes in the workings of the global political economy in the post–Cold War era—changes in which they are themselves deeply implicated.

This pathbreaking volume, edited by anthropologists John L. Comaroff and Jean Comaroff, explores the reasons behind the increasingly assertive politics of custom in many corners of Africa. Chiefs come in countless guises—from university professors through cosmopolitan businessmen to subsistence farmers–but, whatever else they do, they are a critical key to understanding the tenacious hold that “traditional” authority enjoys in the late modern world. Together the contributors explore this counterintuitive chapter in Africa’s history and, in so doing, place it within the broader world-making processes of the twenty-first century.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

An Introduction
1
Millennial Capitalism and the Struggle over Moral Authority
49
Sara Berry Three Chieftaincy Land and the State in Ghana and South Africa
79
Reflections on the Nhlapo Commission
110
Jocelyn Alexander Five The Politics of States and Chiefs in Zimbabwe
134
Mariane Ferme Six Paramount Chiefs Land and LocalNational Politics in Sierra Leone
162
Neotraditionalism Aristocratic Ethos and Authoritarianism in Burkina Faso
183
Susan Cook Eight Corporate Kings and South Africas Traditional Industrial Complex
211
Corporate Branding and the Commodification of Political Authority in Ghana
231
Lauren Coyle Ten Fallen Chiefs and Sacrificial Mining in Ghana
247
Kingship Temporality and Mining of Futures in the Goldfields of South Kivu DRC
279
Invisibility and Recognition of the Customary in Northern Mozambique
305
Acknowledgments
337
Contributors
339
Index
343
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2018)

John L. Comaroff is the Hugh K. Foster Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology and an Oppenheimer Fellow in African Studies at Harvard University. He is also an Affiliated Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation. Jean Comaroff is the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology and an Oppenheimer Fellow in African Studies at Harvard University.

Bibliographic information