Political Topographies of the African State

Territorial Authority and Institutional Choice

Political Topographies of the African State

Catherine Boone examines political regionalism in Africa and how it affects forms of government, and prospects for democracy and development. Boone's study is set within the context of larger theories of political development in agrarian societies. It features a series of compelling case studies that focus on regions within Senegal, Ghana, and Côte d'Ivoire and ranges from 1930 to the present. The book will be of interest to readers concerned with comparative politics, Africa, development, regionalism and federalism, and ethnic politics.


"Highly recommended." Choice

"Catherine Boone's Political Topographies of the African State provides micro-level insight into the macro-level problem of state building in contemporary Africa and in other regions and other periods as well. Based on a deep reading of the ethnography, the politics, and the histories of West African societies, she helps us to understand at a very deep level both the sources of order and the roots of conflict in that region. A major study." Robert H. Bates, Harvard University

"This book provides a provocative yet entirely convincing reinterpretation of the dynamics of state formation in Sub Saharan Africa over the course of the second half of the twentieth century. Boone employs a wealth of primary materials from three different countries in West Africa to demonstrate persuasively that state building in the countryside, far from homogeneous, followed several distinct patterns depending on the nature of the local rural economy, and the strategic interaction between regional and state elites. In its elegant argumentation and theoretical sophistication, this work deserves comparison with the classic works on state formation in other regions of the world. It will be read for a long time." Nicolas van de Walle, Michigan State University

"...a masterful volume, which will immediately win recognition as one of the most important theoretical works on African politics. Boone provides an elegant framework for analysis, which yields and illuminating typology of institutional strategies for rural engagement, and shows how the structure of the local constrains and shapes the choices of the center." M. Crawford Young, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"Catherine Boone uses all the available literature, in English or French, as well as her intimate knowledge of the area, to show convincingly that you cannot impose any politico-administrative model top-downa in Africa. Institutional outcomes are the results of a large number of historical, cultural, social, and very importantly geographic, determinants. This is a rich and illuminating book, indispensable for understanding in particular the recent civil war in Cote d'Ivoire." Jean-Paul Azam, University of Toulouse

"Fine scholarship that is well worth reading and debating. It is certainly the most theoretically engaging and sustained treatment of center-periphery relations that I can recall." Michael G. Shatzberg, International Journal of African Historical Studies


Winner, 2005 Mattei Dogan Award of the Society for Comparative Research
Finalist: 2004 Melville J. Herskovits Award