The Commodification of African Politics

Book review of Alex de Waal (2015) 'The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa' ISBN: 9780745695587

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewResearch

Abstract

Can a book be both inspiring and disappointing? The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa might just fall into this rare category. Alex de Waal’s writing is theoretically original and empirically rich, but it is also reductionist and, in the case of Ethiopia, biased. The book makes sense of the Horn of Africa’s complex contemporary politics through the prism of three elements. Firstly, de Waal proposes an innovative theory centered on the idea of the ‘political marketplace’. Secondly, as the title suggests, the book sets out to explain the Horn of Africa’s ‘real politics’, i.e. the actors, interests, practices and dynamics that dominate political life. Individual chapters are devoted to Darfur, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Somaliland, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, leaving only Djibouti out from the region. De Waal writes eloquently and with great wit, offering the reader many insights. Thirdly, The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa captures three decades of research and policy involvement in the Horn of Africa by the author.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAfrica Review of Books
Volume13
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)7-9
Number of pages3
ISSN0851-7592
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2017

Keywords

  • Horn of Africa
  • politics
  • marketplace
  • violence

Cite this

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title = "The Commodification of African Politics: Book review of Alex de Waal (2015) 'The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa' ISBN: 9780745695587",
abstract = "Can a book be both inspiring and disappointing? The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa might just fall into this rare category. Alex de Waal’s writing is theoretically original and empirically rich, but it is also reductionist and, in the case of Ethiopia, biased. The book makes sense of the Horn of Africa’s complex contemporary politics through the prism of three elements. Firstly, de Waal proposes an innovative theory centered on the idea of the ‘political marketplace’. Secondly, as the title suggests, the book sets out to explain the Horn of Africa’s ‘real politics’, i.e. the actors, interests, practices and dynamics that dominate political life. Individual chapters are devoted to Darfur, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Somaliland, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, leaving only Djibouti out from the region. De Waal writes eloquently and with great wit, offering the reader many insights. Thirdly, The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa captures three decades of research and policy involvement in the Horn of Africa by the author.",
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author = "Tobias Hagmann",
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The Commodification of African Politics : Book review of Alex de Waal (2015) 'The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa' ISBN: 9780745695587. / Hagmann, Tobias.

In: Africa Review of Books, Vol. 13, No. 2, 15.12.2017, p. 7-9.

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewResearch

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