© 2012

Africa and International Relations in the 21st Century

  • Scarlett Cornelissen
  • Fantu Cheru
  • Timothy M. Shaw

Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Introduction: Africa and International Relations in the 21st Century: Still Challenging Theory?

    1. Scarlett Cornelissen, Fantu Cheru, Timothy M. Shaw
      Pages 1-17
  3. Reconceptualizing Authority and Sovereignty

  4. Innovations from Below: Territory and Identity

  5. Insecurities

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 210-248

About this book


This book examines key emergent trends related to aspects of power, sovereignty, conflict, peace, development, and changing social dynamics in the African context. It challenges conventional IR precepts of authority, politics and society, which have proven to be so inadequate in explaining African processes. Rather, this edited collection analyses the significance of many of the uncharted dimensions of Africa's international relations, such as the respatialisation of African societies through migration, and the impacts this process has had on state power; the various ways in which both formal and informal authority and economies are practised; and the dynamics and impacts of new transnational social movements on African politics. Finally, attention is paid to Africa's place in a shifting global order, and the implications for African international relations of the emergence of new world powers and/or alliances. This edition includes a new preface by the editors, which brings the findings of the book up-to-date, and analyses the changes that are likely to impact upon global governance and human development in policy and practice in Africa and the wider world post-2015.


Africa International Relations power identity statehood sovereignty international politics migration reterritorialisation sub-national identity diaspora politics private security spaces South-South multilateralisms conflict gender Governance immigration international relations nationalism privatization transformation

Editors and affiliations

  • Scarlett Cornelissen
    • 1
  • Fantu Cheru
    • 2
  • Timothy M. Shaw
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of StellenboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Nordic Africa InstituteUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Institute of International RelationsUniversity of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad and Tobago

About the editors

Rita Abrahamsen, Associate Professor at the School of International Development and Global Studies and in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa, Canada Ulf Engel, Professor at the Centre for African Studies and Director of Global and European Studies Institute, University of Leipzig, Germany Loren B. Landau, Professor Director of the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS) (formerly Forced Migration Studies Programme, FMSP) at Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gathseni, Senior Researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa Cyril I. Obi, Programme Coordinator at the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI), Uppsala, Sweden Gorm Rye Olsen, Head of the Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University, Denmark Jane L. Parpart, Visiting Professor and Graduate Coordinator at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, University of West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago Karen Smith, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa Lisa Thompson, Director of the African Centre for Citizenship and Democracy at the School of Government, University of the Western Cape, South Africa Thomas Kwasi Tieku, Director of African Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada Darshan Vigneswaran, Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Ethnic and Religious Diversity, Göttingen, Germany Louise Wiuff Moe, Ph.D. candidate at the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Queensland, Australia.

Bibliographic information


"Africa and International Relations in the 21st Century is a must read resource for graduate students in political science, public administration and international business administration." - George Allan Phiri, Institute of Research, Development and Training, African Studies Quarterly

"This book explodes the myth that Africa is peripheral to International Relations theory. Through richly insightful analyses of governance and security in Africa, the authors establish that informal loci of authority, transnational complexes and non-state security arrangements challenge mainstream IR's insistent focus on the state as the primary unit of analysis. This volume should be required reading for scholars, students and policymakers who are interested in current debates on sovereignty and statehood, as well as in Africa's role in the changing global economy." Sandra Maclean, Simon Fraser University, Canada

"This is a very timely and invaluable contribution that advances our understanding of Africa's unanticipated "second chance" in the post bi-polar era and second decade of the 21st century. The volume intricately weaves critical perspectives on power, sovereignty, conflict, peace, and Africa's changing social dynamics together to create a seamless treatise of compelling scholarship. For anyone interested in African international relations, this is a must read." - Kobena T. Hanson, African Capacity Building Foundation, Zimbabwe

"As Jean-François Bayart's L'Etat en Afrique challenged statehood in Africa in the 1980s , Africa and International Relations in the 21st Century defeats conventional precepts of authority, sovereignty and security in Africa and beyond. It pictures a hybrid political order of state and non-state governance, with new state-civil society relationships and instructive informal dimensions of regional integration. It powerfully illustrates how authority is nowadays reterritorialized from below, reconstructing even the state." Cristina D'Alessandro, Sciences Po, France

"This is an outstanding collection of original, clear, and incisive essays that cover all the major issues in Africa today. It is the perfect book around which to organize a rigorous course on Africa in the world." Craig Murphy, Wellesley College, USA

"A worthy collection of considered and strong scholarship that puts the debates on Africa's position in the global economy beyond the current euphoria and exuberance! A must read to appreciate the continent in today's rapidly changing world." George Kararach, The African Development Bank

"This important collection brings to the fore the dynamics and processes that are shaping and re-shaping Africa's international connections. At a time when the continent is said to be 'rising', critical thoughts on Africa's place in world affairs are needed as perhaps never before." Ian Taylor, University of St Andrews, UK

"Africa, we are told, is a playground where the world competes and a place that too often fails expectations. Africa and International Relations rejects these tropes and challenges the reader to see the continent differently. It is an important addition to a growing body of literature that refuses to accept pre-packaged notions of Africa in the world." - Larry A. Swatuk, University of Waterloo, Canada