Africa’s Development in Historical Perspective
Edited by Robert H. Bates, Nathan Nunn, James A. Robinson, and Emmanuel Akyeampong
This edited volume addresses the root causes of Africa’s persistent poverty through an investigation of its longue durée history. It interrogates the African past through disease and demography, institutions and governance, African economies and the impact of the export slave trade, colonialism, Africa in the world economy, and culture’s influence on accumulation and investment. Several of the chapters take a comparative perspective, placing Africa’s developments aside other global patterns. The readership for this book spans from the informed lay reader with an interest in Africa, academics and undergraduate and graduate students, policy makers, and those in the development world. (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
Weatherhead Faculty Associate and Harvard Academy Senior Scholar Robert H. Bates is the Eaton Professor of the Science of Government and professor of African and African American studies. Weatherhead Faculty Associate Nathan Nunn is a professor of economics. Weatherhead Faculty Associate and Harvard Academy Senior Scholar James A. Robinson is the David Florence Professor of Government. Weatherhead Faculty Associate Emmanuel K. Akyeampong is a professor of history and a professor of African and African American studies.
The Politics of Representation in the Global Age: Identification, Mobilization, and Adjudication
Edited by Peter A. Hall, Wade Jacoby, Jonah Levy, and Sophie Meunier
How has the process of political representation changed in the era of globalization? The representation of interests is at the heart of democracy, but how is it that some interests secure a strong voice, while others do not? While each person has multiple interests linked to different dimensions of his or her identity, much of the existing academic literature assumes that interests are given prior to politics by a person’s socioeconomic, institutional, or cultural situation. This book mounts a radical challenge to this view, arguing that interests are actively forged through processes of politics. The book develops an analytic framework for understanding how representation takes place—based on processes of identification, mobilization, and adjudication—and explores how these processes have evolved over time. Through a wide variety of case studies, the chapters explore how actors identify their interests, mobilize them into action, and resolve conflicts among them. (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
Weatherhead Center Faculty Associate Peter A. Hall is the Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies in the Department of Government. Wade Jacoby is the Mary Lou Fulton Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for the Study of Europe at Brigham Young University. Jonah Levy is an associate professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley. Sophie Meunier is a research scholar in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and codirector of the European Union Program at Princeton University.
Frontiers of Possession: Spain and Portugal in Europe and the Americas
By Tamar Herzog
Frontiers of Possession asks how territorial borders were established in Europe and the Americas during the early modern period and challenges the standard view that national boundaries are largely determined by military conflicts and treaties. Focusing on Spanish and Portuguese claims in the New and Old Worlds, Tamar Herzog reconstructs the different ways land rights were negotiated and enforced, sometimes violently, among people who remembered old possessions or envisioned new ones: farmers and nobles, clergymen and missionaries, settlers and indigenous peoples.
Questioning the habitual narrative that sees the Americas as a logical extension of the Old World, Herzog portrays Spain and Portugal on both sides of the Atlantic as one unified imperial space. She begins in the Americas, where Iberian conquerors had to decide who could settle the land, who could harvest fruit and cut timber, and who had river rights for travel and trade. The presence of indigenous peoples as enemies to vanquish or allies to befriend, along with the vastness of the land, complicated the picture, as did the promise of unlimited wealth. In Europe, meanwhile, the formation and reformation of boundaries could last centuries, as ancient entitlements clashed with evolving economic conditions and changing political views and juridical doctrines regarding how land could be acquired and maintained.
Herzog demonstrates that the same fundamental questions had to be addressed in Europe and in the Americas. Territorial control was always subject to negotiation, as neighbors and outsiders, in their quotidian interactions, carved out and defended new frontiers of possession. (Harvard University Press, 2014)
Weatherhead Center Faculty Associate Tamar Herzog is the Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs and professor of Spanish and Portuguese history in the Department of History.
African Religions: A Very Short Introduction
By Jacob K. Olupona
What are African religions? African Religions: A Very Short Introduction answers this question by examining primarily indigenous religious traditions on the African continent, as well as exploring Christianity and Islam. It focuses on the diversity of ethnic groups, languages, cultures, and worldviews, emphasizing the continent’s regional diversity.
Olupona examines a wide range of African religious traditions on their own terms and in their social, cultural, and political contexts. Olupona examines the myths and sacred stories about the origins of the universe that define ethnic groups and national identities throughout Africa. He also discusses spiritual agents in the African cosmos such as God, spirits, and ancestors. In addition to myths and deities, Olupona focuses on the people central to African religions, including medicine men and women, rainmakers, witches, magicians, and divine kings, and how they serve as authority figures and intermediaries between the social world and the cosmic realm.
African Religions: A Very Short Introduction discusses a wide variety of religious practices, including music and dance, calendrical rituals and festivals, celebrations for the gods’ birthdays, and rituals accompanying stages of life such as birth, puberty, marriage, elderhood, and death. In addition to exploring indigenous religions, Olupona examines the ways Islam and Christianity as outside traditions encountered indigenous African religion.
Olupona draws on archaeological and historical sources, as well as ethnographic materials based on fieldwork. He shows that African religions are not static traditions, but have responded to changes within their local communities and to fluxes caused by outside influences, and spread with diaspora and migration. (Oxford University Press, 2014)
Weatherhead Faculty Associate Jacob K. Olupona is a professor of African religious traditions and a professor of African and African American studies.
The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union
By Serhii Plokhy
On Christmas Day, 1991, President George H. W. Bush addressed the nation to declare an American victory in the Cold War: earlier that day Mikhail Gorbachev had resigned as the first and last Soviet president. The enshrining of that narrative, one in which the end of the Cold War was linked to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the triumph of democratic values over communism, took center stage in American public discourse immediately after Bush’s speech and has persisted for decades—with disastrous consequences for American standing in the world.
As prize-winning historian Serhii Plokhy reveals in The Last Empire, the collapse of the Soviet Union was anything but the handiwork of the United States. On the contrary, American leaders dreaded the possibility that the Soviet Union—weakened by infighting and economic turmoil—might suddenly crumble, throwing all of Eurasia into chaos. Bush was firmly committed to supporting his ally and personal friend Gorbachev, and remained wary of nationalist or radical leaders such as recently elected Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Fearing what might happen to the large Soviet nuclear arsenal in the event of the union’s collapse, Bush stood by Gorbachev as he resisted the growing independence movements in Ukraine, Moldova, and the Caucasus. Plokhy’s detailed, authoritative account shows that it was only after the movement for independence of the republics had gained undeniable momentum on the eve of the Ukrainian vote for independence that fall that Bush finally abandoned Gorbachev to his fate. (Basic Books, 2014)
Weatherhead Center Faculty Associate Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and the director of the Ukrainian Research Institute.
Advanced Introduction to Comparative Constitutional Law
By Mark Tushnet
Elgar Advanced Introductions are stimulating and thoughtful introductions to major fields in the social sciences and law, expertly written by the world’s leading scholars. Designed to be accessible yet rigorous, they offer concise and lucid surveys of the substantive and policy issues associated with discrete subject areas.
Mark Tushnet, a world-renowned scholar of constitutional law, presents an introduction to comparative constitutional law through an analysis of topics at the cutting-edge of contemporary scholarship. His authoritative study investigates constitution making, including the problem of unconstitutional constitutional amendments; recent developments in forms of constitutional review, including “the battle of the courts”; proportionality analysis and its alternatives; and the emergence of a new “transparency” branch in constitutions around the world. Throughout, the book draws upon examples from a wide range of nations, demonstrating that the field of comparative constitutional law now truly encompasses the world. (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014)
Weatherhead Faculty Associate Mark Tushnet is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.