'This reader is a bold attempt to rescue the heuristic value of modernity in African scholarship that takes cognizance of the disjunctures between academic discourses and lived African realities. By bringing together a wide array of multidisciplinary papers -- published and unpublished -- it makes a convincing argument for a historicized approach to Africa's engagement with modernity that gives Africa agency as coeval while recognizing the inequities that have framed Africa's relationship with the West. The stimulating introduction and essays in this volume underscore why modernity remains a factious yet highly significant concept for Africans -- and thus for scholars of Africa.' - Emmanuel Akyeampong, Professor of History, Harvard University This book provides students of Africa with a guide to the bewildering variety of scholarly work on the issue of modernity in Africa, and to offer some tools for dealing with its intellectual paradoxes. Part One contains both analytical and historical examples of the genealogies of modernity in the African continent and the fragmentation over time of its unilinear meta-narrative. Part Two provides a set of rich ethnographic sketches of its current manifestations in politics, urban space, technology and the realm of the invisible. What emerges as critically important in this challenging collage of texts, are the varying ways in which modernity actually produces its other -- that is, "tradition".
"'... scholars have felt the urgency to understand modernity in present-day Africa, and have tried to make sense of these desires to move "upward" or to "develop", to cease being "backward" or being held back by "tradition". Yet, people often regard "modernity" as an abomination as much as a blessing, and yearn nostalgically for a vanished past... They form this ambivalence in widely divergent socio-cultural and historical trajectories, giving rise to a bewildering variety of often unexpected manifestations. These varied forms of modernity are the focus of this volume" - from the Introduction
AllAfrica Review: Readings in Modernity in Africa