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41 | 2021
Crossing the Lines

Local Actors’ Responses to Developmental Changes in Africa

Notas da redacção

How do different actors respond to the challenges of development in Africa? This special issue brings together a collection of texts that seek to provide answers to this question from a multi-disciplinary and multi-methodological perspective. It draws on a critique of the concept of development, namely its neo-colonial heritage, and sheds light into the mechanisms used by local actors to respond to developmental challenges. 'African agency' is the cornerstone concept cutting across all papers. This multi-layered concept can be located at multiple scales from the local to the global and be used by a wide range of actors in their specific settings, and power configurations.  Across several case studies from Cabo Verde, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, this special issue reveals how African national governments, political elites, farmers, women, civil society organizations, among others, use the available room of manoeuvre to resist, take advantage, change, and voice discontent towards the inequalities and imbalances generated by developmental endeavours. The papers show how the politics of development is shaped by power relations that are seeded in the colonial past and that are continuously reinvented in the present. However, they also reveal a complex and at times surprising interplay between agency and structure in contemporary Africa. 

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