roape.net publishes reviews of academic and political books as well as fiction, exhibitions, social movement events and films. Our reviews examine the scholarly debates within Africa political economy, but can also focus on important cultural events taking place on the continent and elsewhere.
In a review of Food Insecurity and Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa: Agrarian Questions in Egypt and Tunisia, by Habib Ayeb and Ray Bush, Bettina Engels argues that the authors make a major contribution to countering the widely held notion that the peasantry is politically passive. The book also considers the vital role that family farmers played in the 2010 and 2011 uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
Introducing an important book series on Democratic Marxism in Africa, Vishwas Satgar explains that the project is premised on a rejection of the authoritarianism of vanguardist politics and the need to learn critical lessons from all the left projects of the 20th century. There is a rich inheritance of emancipatory Marxism in Africa, which includes Frantz Fanon, Ruth First, Samir Amin, Sam Moyo, Harold Wolpe and many others. Today, Satgar argues, the challenge is to defeat carbon capitalism accelerating the climate crisis and fomenting exclusionary nationalisms and for this there has to be a return to Marx.
Peter Jacobs reviews two new books on the history of South Africa’s unfinished liberation struggle. He celebrates books that debunk the one-sided and sanitised histories of how South Africa’s black majority fought for their emancipation from political and socioeconomic subjugation.
Discussing the extraordinary work of the Guyanese activist and historian Walter Rodney, Chinedu Chukwudinma describes how Rodney’s work remains a priceless weapon of theory and history that restores the dignity of African people. However, this blogpost takes issue with Andy Higginbottom’s review of Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa on roape.net and argues that Rodney’s version of dependency theory presents a flawed analysis of imperialism.
In this review of Peter Cole’s comparative study of port workers in Durban and San Francisco Bay, Dockworker Power, Peter Limb assesses the combination of labour, comparative and global history framed by the political economy of containerization which makes this book timely and worthy of deep reflection. The book’s author insists on the relevance of these dockworker struggles for the present and future, how workers can change their conditions, and the world, which is why the book is useful not just to scholars but also to workers, trade unionists and social activists more broadly.