Politics of West Africa

David Ehrhardt

in Political Science

ISBN: 9780199756223
Published online November 2011 | | DOI:
Politics of West Africa

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  • Comparative Politics
  • Political Institutions
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  • Political Theory



Nigerian “419” scams, civil war violence in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the relatively recent traumas of colonial rule: all examples of the troubling features that people commonly associate with West African societies. At closer inspection, however, a more complex picture emerges. In this picture, West Africa boasts a historical legacy of one of the most developed precolonial forms of statehood on the continent, the Sokoto Caliphate, as well as contemporary examples of ambitious regional integration. Moreover, from the arid Sahel to the voluptuous greens of the Niger Delta, the region contains unparalleled riches in resources and biodiversity. Diversity also extends into the social realm, with the complex and myriad ethnic, linguistic, and religious communities that weave and maintain West Africa’s social, political, and economic fabrics. From grinding poverty to stupendous resource riches, and from civil wars to tourist beaches, West Africa is thus a region of contrasts and the politics of the region, understood to include all actions and institutions involved in the governance of West Africa, reflect these contrasts. This article presents a selection of excellent academic texts on this diverse and fascinating realm of African politics. It discusses the themes of electoral politics, the nature of the state, and democratization alongside the impact of ethnic, religious, class, and gender identities and the politics of collective violence, in an attempt to do justice to the disciplinary and thematic heterogeneity of the academic works it presents.

Article.  6638 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Political Institutions ; Political Methodology ; Political Theory

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