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A.A. 2019 / 2020

Primo semestre
Tipo attività formativa 
[PDS0-2018 - Ord. 2018] comune
Lingua insegnamento 


Obiettivi formativi 

This course introduces students to the major themes and the basic techniques of comparative political and institutional analysis. We will critically and empirically examine the patterns of political development achieved by contemporary Sub-Saharan African countries. In order to examine and underline the potentials and limits of this approach, each class will compares contemporary research on African political systems with classic comparative and theoretical studies from other world regions. At the end of the course, the student will be able to explain differences in political development across the region.


A good knowledge of Political Science, both from a theoretical and methodological point of views, and of Contemporary History, are required.


This course concentrates on the dynamics of colonial and post-colonial state in Africa. All the main themes and issues which characterized the political development will be treated by means of the techniques of comparative analysis. A special attention will be devoted to the issues of political stability, conflict, the conditions for the emergence of democracy and democratic consolidation or the resilience of authoritarian practices.

Metodi didattici 

Students will work in groups to complete tasks collectively (or individually) toward the achievement of the academic goals through in-depth analysis of specific cases. Students will be asked to produce and discuss thematic reports and academic papers. The course will be divided in three parts. The first one is devoted mainly to methodology and to the analysis of the historical developments across the region; the second one analyzes in depth the main thematic issues – stability/conflict, democracy/authoritarism; the third one will be devoted to in-depth comparative analysis across the region.

Programma esteso 

1. Types of Colonialism.
2. Democracy and authoritarianism: definitions.
3. The concept of Political Development:
- The development of parties before independence and the problem of political penetration;
- Elite formation and social change; the new elite and nationalism creation;
4. The imperatives of “political order” and the ascent of authoritarianism:
- Authoritarian types;
- The role of armed forces (the “pretorianism”);
- The role of single political parties;
- “Mobilization” and “reconciliation” systems;
- The development of a “National culture” and the role of ideology:
- Cooptation, clientelism and corruption: neo-patrimonialism;
- The national state and the persistence of regional and ethnic identities;
- The Cold war and the theory of “limited sovereignty”.
5. The democratization process and democratic consolidation after the end of the Cold war:
- Democratic types;
- Civil-military relations under democratic regimes;
- Types of multi-party politics;
- The type of parties in new democracies;
- Nationalism, “limited sovereignty” and democracy:
- Cooptation, clientelism and corruption under democratic regimes;
- The national state and the persistence of regional and ethnic identities;
- The role of civil society
6. Durable authoritarianism: the factors and the structures behind new authoritarian regimes

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento 

Exams aim at determining learning abilities and programmes contents. Students will be evaluated through in-depth discussions on readings provided to them during the course and an oral/written examination based on essential readings.

Testi di riferimento 

The course required one essential reading for all and some further readings (only recommended) according to the interest manifested by the students. For those not attending the course, the further readings list is compulsory.

Essential readings:
- Young, Crawford. 2012. The Postcolonial States in Africa. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Further readings list:
- Nationalism in Tropical Africa
Author(s): James S. Coleman: The American Political Science Review, Vol. 48, No. 2 (Jun., 1954), pp. 404-426
- Pre-Colonial Institutions, Post-Colonial States, and Economic Development in TropicalAfrica
Author(s): Pierre Englebert, Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Mar., 2000), pp. 7-36
- The Politics of Succession in Black Africa
Author(s): Arnold Hughes and Roy May, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 1, Succession in the South (Jan., 1988), pp. 1-22
- Personal Rule: Theory and Practice in Africa
Author(s): Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg, Comparative Politics, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Jul., 1984), pp. 421-442
- Political Clientelism and Ethnicity in Tropical Africa: Competing Solidarities in Nation-Building
Author(s): René Lemarchand, The American Political Science Review, Vol. 66, No. 1 (Mar., 1972), pp. 68-90
- Institutionalization of Party Systems? Stability and Fluidity among Legislative Parties in Africa’s Democracies
Staffan I. Lindberg, Government and Opposition, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 215–241, 2007
- Democratization in Africa 1990–2010: an assessment.
Gabrielle Lynch a & Gordon Crawford, Democratization, Vol. 18, No. 2, April 2011, 275–310
- Mamdani, Mahmood. 1996. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of
Late Colonialism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, chapter 1
- Indirect Rule: French and British Style
Author(s): Michael Crowder, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Jul., 1964), pp.197-205
- Thinking about developmental state in Africa
Thandika Mkandawire, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 25, 289-313
-Resnick, Danielle, Populist strategies in African democracies, Working paper // World Institute for Development Economics Research, No. 2010,114
- Deciphering Disorder in Africa: Is Identity the Key?, Review by: Crawford Young, World Politics, Vol. 54, No. 4 (Jul., 2002), pp. 532-557

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