Africa's Past Invented to Serve Development's Uncertain Future

Scott MacWilliam

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This essay examines the proposition that development, which has stalled since Independence in many African countries, can be restarted by the restoration of colonial governance. This form of rule, in place from the end of the 19th until the middle of the last century, was supposedly responsible for major improvements in a range of living conditions for colonial populations. The end of colonial governance, it is alleged, led to corruption and impoverishment for many people. Here it is argued that, as offensive as many may find the claim that colonial rule was beneficial for subject peoples, the purpose of the proposition should receive attention. The call for the return of colonial governance is placed within a wider, more influential series of proposals for how to bring development at a moment of uncertainty through a range of governance reforms. These proposals struggle with the politics of capitalist development, particularly the fraught relationship between development and democracy. The virtue of the call for the return of colonial governance is that it at least makes clear the increasingly prevalent assertion that democracy should be a lower priority than development.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-38pp
    JournalAustralasian Review of African Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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