A History of Modern Africa
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More About This Title A History of Modern Africa


Updated and revised to emphasise long-term perspectives on current issues facing the continent, the new 2nd Edition of A History of Modern Africa recounts the full breadth of Africa's political, economic, and social history over the past two centuries.

  • Adopts a long-term approach to current issues, stressing the importance of nineteenth-century and deeper indigenous dynamics in explaining Africa's later twentieth-century challenges
  • Places a greater focus on African agency, especially during the colonial encounter
  • Includes more in-depth coverage of non-Anglophone Africa
  • Offers expanded coverage of the post-colonial era to take account of recent developments, including the conflict in Darfur and the political unrest of 2011 in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya


Richard Reid is Reader in the History of Africa at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is the author of Political Power in Pre-Colonial Buganda: Economy, Society and Warfare in the Nineteenth Century (2002), War in Pre-Colonial Eastern Africa (2007), and Frontiers of Violence in Northeast Africa (2011), as well as numerous articles on the nineteenth- and twentieth-century history of east and northeast Africa.


List of Maps xiv

List of Plates xv

Acknowledgments for the Second Edition xvii

Acknowledgments xviii

1 Introduction: Understanding the Contours of Africa's Past 1

A Brief History of the Study of Africa 5

Land 8

People 12

Part I Polity, Society, and Economy: Ingenuity and Violence in the Nineteenth Century 17

2 Western Transitions: Slave Trade and "Legitimate" Commerce in Atlantic Africa 23

States and Societies during the Atlantic Slave Trade 24

"Illegal" Traffic: The Nineteenth-Century Slave Trade 28

Mineral and Vegetable: "Legitimate" Commerce 32

Change and Continuity in Forest and Savannah 35

3 Eastern Intrusions: Slaves and Ivory in Eastern Africa 42

Commercial Horizons: Slaves and Ivory 43

Maritime Empire: Zanzibar 48

Statehood, Conflict, and Trade (1): The Lacustrine Zone 52

Statehood, Conflict, and Trade (2): Northeastern Africa 59

4 Southern Frontiers: Colony and Revolution in Southern Africa 65

African State and Society to around 1800 65

War, Revolution, and the Zulu Impact 67

Cape Colonialism: White Settlement and the "Native Question" 71

Voortrekkers: White Communities in the Interior 74

Balances of Power to around 1870 75

Part II Africa and Islam: Revival and Reform in the Nineteenth Century 77

5 Revival and Reaction: North African Islam 81

Old and New Identities: Brotherhoods of the Desert 81

Trade and Conflict in the Mediterranean World: Ottoman and European Frontiers 82

Changing Society (1): The Maghreb 86

Changing Society (2): Egypt 89

6 Jihad: Revolutions in Western Africa 94

Islam inWestern Africa to the Eighteenth Century 94

The Wandering Fulani 96

Prophets and Warriors 97

7 The Eastern Crescent: The Islamic Frontier in Eastern Africa 103

Swahili Islam: Coastal Frontiers in the Nineteenth Century 103

Islam in the Central East African Interior 105

Cross and Crescent in Northeast Africa 106

Islam on the Nile 108

Part III Africa and Europe: Commerce, Conflict and Co-option, to c.1920 113

8 The Compass and the Cross 119

Interested Gentlemen and Learned Bodies: Explorers and Exploration 119

Creeping Hegemony and the Invention of Africa 123

European Missionary Activity in Africa to around 1800 125

Evangelical Humanitarians: Missionary Revival 126

The Christian Impact on Culture, State, and Society 129

Mission and Empire 134

9 "Whatever Happens . . .": Towards the Scramble 139

Africa and Theories of Imperialism 140

Race and Culture 142

Disorder and Civilizing Violence: Political and Economic Justifications 145

10 Africans Adapting: Conquest and Partition 150

Explaining the "Conquest" 150

Spears and Water: Violent Resistance 155

Histories Old and New: Colonialism and

Historical "Knowledge" 165

Realities Old and New: Colonialism and

Political "Knowledge" 168

BushWars and Distant Shadows: Africa in Global War 175

Part IV Colonialisms 183

11 "Pax Colonia"? Empires of Soil and Service 189

Monopolies on Violence 190

Slaves and Labor 193

Cash Crops 194

White Settlement 199

Industry 201

Social Change and Emergent Crisis 204

Hearts and Minds 207

Environment and Medicine 210

12 Hard Times: Protest, Identity, and Depression 218

Making Tribes 218

Emergent Protest in the Islamic World 221

Salvation and Resistance: The African Church 223

Class and Tribe: The Industrial Complex 224

Cash Crops, Rural Crises, and Peasant Protest 227

Other Voices 230

13 Battles Home and Away: Africa in GlobalWar (Again) 236

The War in the Continent 236

Shifts in Politics and Society 241

Part V The Dissolution of Empire 245

14 The Beached Whale: Colonial Strategies in the Postwar World 251

Postwar Africa and the International Climate 252

Economic Policies and Visions, c. 1945–50 253

Political Plans, c. 1945–50 256

15 Conceiving and Producing Nations 259

The Widening Horizons of Belonging 260

Tensions and Transitions: From Political Consciousness to Political Parties 261

Irresistible Force and Immovable Object: Nationalists and Settlers 268

A Time of Contrasts 273

16 Compromising Conflict: Routes to Independence 276

Debate and Debacle: “Constitutional” Transfers of Power 276

Violence: Growth, Form, and Impact 286

From Suez to Sharpeville, and Beyond:

The End of High Imperialism 291

Part VI Legacies, New Beginnings, and Unfinished Business 297

17 Unsafe Foundations: Challenges of Independence 303

Building the Nation (1): Economy and Society 303

Building the Nation (2): Polity 310

Political Stability and Islam 316

Crowded House: Africa and the ColdWar 320

18 Violence and the Militarization of Political Culture 328

The Military in African Politics 328

The Politics and Cultures of Insurgency 332

Expanding Military Horizons 337

19 Rectification, Redemption, and Reality: Issues and Trends in Contemporary Africa 339

Africa and the Post-ColdWar World 339

Democracy and Authoritarianism: Trends in Governance 343

NewWars, Old Problems 349

Body and Mind 352

Economic Predicaments: Assessing "Growth" and "Development" 355

Further Reading 363

Index 365