Andreas Mehler, Henning Melber, Klaas van Walraven. Africa Yearbook 2005: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara. Leiden: Brill, 2005. 495 S. $55.00 (paper), ISBN 978-90-04-14462-0.
Reviewed by Roger Pfister (Centre for International and Comparative Politics, Stellenbosch University)
Published on H-SAfrica (April, 2007)
Annual Survey of the State of Affairs in Sub-Saharan Africa
The volume under review contains articles on all of the sub-Saharan African states, covering, broadly speaking, both political and socio-economic developments during 2004. The contributions are organized around the four geographic regions: West, Central, East, and Southern Africa, and include overview chapters on each of these regions and on sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. These chapters examine trans-frontier developments, as well as the role of regional organizations and the African Union. African-European relations also are covered, but the inclusion of this piece is questionable; one wonders if these relations are more pertinent than those with the Americas or Asia, or more important than Africa's standing in international organizations such as the United Nations (UN) or the World Trade Organization (WTO). In the absence of a relevant explanation by the editors for their choice, we assume that the focus on Europe is due to the institutional backing for the reviewed publication.
In particular, the Africa Yearbook is a joint undertaking by the African Studies Centre (ASC) in Leiden (Klaus von Walraven), the Institute of African Affairs (IAK) in Hamburg (Andreas Mehler) and the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) in Uppsala (Henning Melber). These three institutions had been encouraged by the African-European Group for Interdisciplinary Studies (AEGIS) "to publish an Africa Yearbook with a wider international appeal" (p. vii), thus taking up the mantle of the Afrika Jahrbuch that was produced by the IAK for seventeen years until 2003. As a result, almost half of the forty-nine contributors have links with one of the three above-mentioned entities, but a significant number of scholars from Africa also figure among the authors. Many of them are well-known specialists, guaranteeing the academic standard of the individual chapters. At the same time, the volume lives up to its attempt of being "mainly oriented to the requirements of ... students, politicians, diplomats, administrators, journalists, teachers, practitioners in the field of development as well as business people" (back cover). As such, the chapters provide the reader with brief, but rather concise introductions to the relevant political and socio-economic developments in the countries of interest.
For those in need of more in-depth country surveys, however, another yearbook, Africa South of the Sahara, will probably continue to be the more important source.
. Published, since 1971, in London, originally by Europa Publications, now by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
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Roger Pfister. Review of Mehler, Andreas; Melber, Henning; van Walraven, Klaas, Africa Yearbook 2005: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara.
H-SAfrica, H-Net Reviews.
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