The description of Africa as a continent in perpetual crisis, ubiquitous in the popular media and in policy and development circles, is at once obvious and obfuscating. This collection by leading ethnographers moves beyond the rhetoric of African crisis to theorize people's everyday practices under volatile conditions not of their own making. From Ghanaian hiplife music to the U.S. "diversity lottery" in Togo, from politicos in Côte d'Ivoire to squatters in South Africa, the essays in Hard Work, Hard Times uncover the imaginative ways in which African subjects make and remake themselves and their worlds, and thus make do, get by, get over, and sometimes thrive.
Contributors: Beth A. Buggenhagen, Stephen Jackson, Anne-Maria Makhulu, Mike McGovern, Charles Piot , Dorothea E. Schulz, and Jesse Weaver Shipley
Anne-Maria Makhulu is assistant professor of anthropology and African and African American studies at Duke University. Beth A. Buggenhagen is assistant professor of anthropology at Indiana University. Stephen Jackson is senior political affairs officer for the United Nations Africa I Division.
“Social science has given us powerful and compelling studies of postcolonial failure, but it has not adequately recognized the poetics of survival that animates African being in hard times. This book provides a solid analysis of what these hard times are and the challenges they present, but it also foregrounds the poetic and imaginative ways in which African subjects seek a future outside the prison house of late capitalism.”—Simon Gikandi, from the foreword
“The contemporary refiguring of state and international structures has proliferated and amplified the social ecologies we used to call ‘margins,’ and the myriad local forms of innovation, perseverance, and entropy that have emerged under these conditions place new demands on our attentiveness as ethnographers. In their finely detailed attention to marginal spaces across the African continent and beyond, the essays in this volume engage in the essential work of connecting these new historical moments with the new theories needed for comprehending them.”—Jane I. Guyer, author of Marginal Gains: Monetary Transactions in Atlantic Africa