Walter Rodney's Legacy
In 1972 Walter Rodney published his masterpiece How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Rodney’s book took a similar approach to Eduardo Galeano’s 1971 classic, examining four hundred years of European intervention and occupation in Africa. In this blogpost, Leo Zeilig looks at the context and approach Rodney took in his 1972 book.
Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is a masterpiece. In this review of the new edition of the book by Verso, Andy Higginbottom celebrates a classic that has lost none of its power. The book brings together in a broad narrative the history of the African continent from a perspective that is at one and the same time Pan-Africanist and Marxist. For all of those interested in Africa’s history and future, the book must be studied once more.
Walter Rodney’s posthumous book The Russian Revolution: A View from the Third World sought to understand the significance of the Revolution in order to the strengthen liberation movements that Rodney was directly involved in. As Martin Empson explains in this review, these movements took place in the context of historical colonial exploitation or in underdeveloped economies, economies that Rodney argues had been depleted of their wealth, resources and population by Western capitalism.
Historical explanations advanced by Walter Rodney on early patterns of dependency resonate with contemporary social and economic realities of globalisation. Colonial legacies are very much alive and well across the African continent. In this blogpost Katie Barker argues that many of the old patterns of dependency prevail and illustrates the urgency to transform Africa’s structural position in the global economy, de-industrialisation and agricultural stagnation.
In her final blog in the series Lee Wengraf celebrates the life and work of Walter Rodney, the scholar, working class militant and revolutionary from Guyana who was murdered 37 years ago. His book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa remains a classic that must be carefully studied by activists and scholars today.