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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Independence on a silver platter: the emerging liberal mythology
Author:Zeleza, TiyambeISNI
Geographic term:Africa
Abstract:Since anthropology is too discredited to play a useful role in the great intellectual and ideological struggles over Africa, and the social sciences are too contemporaneous in their focus and methodology, history is left as the main battlefront. This paper deals with the continuing debates in African history, demonstrating that the 'Eurocentric' tradition is experiencing a revival in African historical scholarship, and suggesting that this tradition, which is rooted in liberal ideology, should be vigorously combated. After a review of the writings of imperialist historians on colonization and decolonization, the author looks at the liberal view of politics, its core assumption that conflict can be 'managed' by reason and good will, and the way this translates into theoretical and historical discourse (modernization or development theory, the concept of basic needs). He then turns to a review of liberal historians and their interpretations of the crisis of the postcolonial African State. He concludes that liberalism's roots in idealism, empiricism, and bourgeois ideology combine to make liberal interpretations ahistorical and more mystifying than explanatory. As an intelllectual tradition to comprehend Africa's present and change its future, liberalism is useless. Notes, ref.