427pp., illus., paperback, Athens, 2022
“Anthropologists, for some time, have successfully deconstructed essentialist notions of the state in Africa by focusing on what states do when they are working. The contributors to this book push this approach further: they enquire about how ordinary citizens experience the state and its agents in multiple sites, focusing on the possibilities and constraints of everyday life and the resulting popular grammars of state and democracy. The book should be on the core reading list of every course on state and democracy, in Africa and beyond.” Thomas Bierschenk, co-editor of States at Work: Dynamics of African bureaucracies
“Mobilizing the decentering perspectives of ethnography to capture living practices, Everyday State and Democracy in Africa develops an original view from below on the huge changes throughout the continent since the end of the Cold War. The volume convincingly demonstrates that a focus on how the people involved see state and democracy might be more helpful than intricate theoretical discussions. Two themes seem to come back throughout the volume. The first is (unsurprisingly) the role of violence in people’s everyday encounters with the state. The second (maybe more surprising) is that the state is all the more present in people’s perceptions where it seems to be absent.” Peter Geschiere, author of The Perils of Belonging: Autochthony, citizenship, and exclusion in Africa and Europe
Contributions include "The State as Golem, police violence in democratic South Africa" by Nicholas Rush Smith and "Disputing Democracy and Challenging the State in Mozambique" by Justin Pearce.
Wale Adebanwi is Presidential Penn Compact Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His books include Authority Stealing: Anti-corruption war and democratic politics in post-military Nigeria; Yoruba Elites and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria: Obafemi Awolowo and corporate agency, and The Nation as Grand Narrative: The Nigerian press and the politics of meaning.