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Forum for the Future of Aid

Southern Voices for Change in the International Aid System Project

The Forum on the Future of Aid is an online community dedicated to research and opinions about how the international aid system currently works and where it should go next

organised by ODI

Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa - Bulletin

Source: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa

Prescriptiveness and insensitivity vis-à-vis African realities and perspectives are exacerbated by the arrogance and ignorance that come with ambitions of dominance. Equally unhelpful to Africa’s cause is the fact that most of the scholarship that informs development initiatives is uncritical of the European origins and assumptions of the social sciences. This is very much in evidence in the current proliferation of ‘scholarly’ prescriptions on the so-called ‘failed states of Africa’ (See for example Stephen Ellis, ‘How to Rebuild Africa’, Foreign Affairs 84(5): 1- 14, 2005), as blame is systematically taken away from the problematic assumption that ‘nation-states’ are possible and that they could be anything but dysfunctional in the current neoliberal configuration of global power relations, and that Africans are at fault for not attaining functional nation-states. And so, everything must be done to bring about ‘functional states’ in Africa, even if this entails placing ‘failed’ or ‘dysfunctional’ states under some kind of ‘international trusteeship’. There is a growing body of literature by African scholars highly critical of such problematic assumptions that Africanists can ill-afford to continue to ignore (See Abdul Raufu Mustapha, this Bulletin). The contributions in this Bulletin thus critically situate themselves in relation to the problematic nature of scholarship by analogy, and in particular, to the mediocrity and insensitivities that such scholarship inspires. Such mediocrity and insensitivities are hardly in the interest of Africa and African Studies.

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