31841 - Political Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (seminar)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Arrigo Pallotti

  • Learning modules Arrigo Pallotti (Modulo 1)
    (Modulo 2)

  • Credits 8

  • SSD SPS/13

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures (Modulo 1)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)

  • Language Italian


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2019/2020

Course contents

Preliminary reading (suggested) F. Cooper, Africa since 1940. The Past of the Present, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002.


1, 2, 3) State-building

Readings for all students:

1) A. Pallotti, Alla ricerca della democrazia. L'Africa sub-sahariana tra autoritarismo e sviluppo, Soveria Mannelli, Rubbetino, 2013 (chapters: 1, 2, 6, 7).

2) A. Pallotti, M. Zamponi, Le parole dello sviluppo. Metodi e politiche della cooperazione internazionale, Roma, Carrocci (chapters: 2, 4, 6, 7, 8).

4) Civil society, NGO, governance

Readings for presentations:

1) J. Hearn, African NGOs: The New Compradors?, Development & Change, n. 6, vol. 38, 2007 + F. Manji & C. O'Coill, The Missionary Position: NGOs and Development in Africa, International Affairs, n. 3, vol. 78, 2002.

2) M. Bratton & C. Logan, Voters but not Citizens: Democratization and Development Aid, in R. Joseph & A. Gillies (eds), Smart Aid for African Development, Boulder, Lynne Rienner, 2009 + P. Lewis, Growth without Prosperity in Africa, Journal of Democracy, n. 4, vol. 19, 2008.

3) D. Bach, Patrimonialism and neopatrimonialism: comparative trajectories and readings, in Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, vol. 49, n. 3, 2011; M. Gazibo, Can neopatrimonialism dissolve into democracy?, in D. Bach, M. Gazibo (eds), Neopatrimonialism in Africa and beyond, New York, Routledge, 2012.

4) McEwan, C., Mawdsley, E., Banks, G. and Scheyvens, R., Enrolling the Private Sector in Community Development: Magic Bullet or Sleight of Hand?. Development and Change, vol. 48, n. 1, 2017.


5) Decentralization

Readings for all students:

1) D. Olowu, Local Governance, Democracy and Development, in R. Joseph (ed), State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa, Lynne Rienner, Boulder, 1999.

2) M. Ndulo, Decentralisation: Challenges of Inclusion and Equity in Governance, in M. Ndulo (ed), Democratic Reform in Africa. Its Impact on Governance and Poverty Alleviation, London, James Currey, 2006.

6) Decentralization: case-studies

Readings for presentations:

1) S. Kilonzo et Al., Improving Access to Maternal Health Care through Devolution in Western Kenya, in IDS Bulletin, vol. 48, n. 2, 2017.

2) E. Maractho, Local government and primary education in Uganda, in IDS Bulletin, vol. 48, n. 2, 2017.

3) O'Meally, S., The Contradictions of Pro-poor Participation and Empowerment: The World Bank in East Africa. Development and Change, vol. 45, n. 6, 2014.

4) Nelson, F. and Agrawal, A., Patronage or Participation? Community-based Natural Resource Management Reform in Sub-Saharan Africa. Development and Change, vol. 39, n. 4, 2008.


7) Democracy and HIV/AIDS

Readings for all students:

1) S. Harman, Fighting HIV and AIDS: Reconfiguring the State?, in Review of African Political Economy, n. 121, 2009.

2) A. Gebre, T. Ayalew, H. Kloos, Gender Inequalities, Power Relations, and HIV/AIDS: Exploring the Interface, in G. Tadele, H. Kloos (eds), Vulnerabilities, Impacts and Responses to HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, London, Palgrave, 2013, pp. 46-61.

3) W. Masanjala, HIV/AIDS e livelihoods: il caso del Malawi, in Afriche e Orienti, speciale 1/2009.

8) Democracy and HIV/AIDS

Readings for presentations:

1) S. MacLean, A New Scramble for Africa: The Struggle in Sub-Saharan Africa to Set the Terms of Global Health, in Round Table, n. 402, vol. 98, 2009.

2) Bidaurratzaga-Aurre, E., & Colom-Jaén, A., HIV/AIDS policies in Mozambique and the new aid architecture: Successes, shortcomings and the way forward, in The Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 50, n. 2, 2012.

3) L. Maclean, Neoliberal democratisation, colonial legacies and the rise of the non-state provision of social welfare in West Africa, in Review of African Political Economy, vol.44, n. 153, 2017.


9) The land question

Readings for all students:

1) H. Bernstein, Rural Land and Land Conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa, in S. Moyo & P. Yeros (eds), Reclaiming the Land, London, Zed Books, 2005.

2) S. Berry, Debating the Land Question in Africa, in Comparative Studies in Society and History n. 4, vol. 44, 2002.

3) P. Woodhouse & A. Chimhowu, Customary vs Private Property Rights? Dynamics and Trajectories of Vernacular Land Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Journal of Agrarian Change, n. 3, vol. 6, 2006.

10) The land question

Readings for presentations:

1) P. Peters, Land Appropriation, Surplus People and a Battle over Visions of Agrarian Futures in Africa, in «Journal of Peasant Studies », vol. 40, n. 3, 2013, pp. 537-562.

2) L. Alden Wily, Reconstructing the African Commons, Africa Today, n. 1, vol. 48, 2001

3) Lavers, T., Land Registration and Gender Equality in Ethiopia: How State–Society Relations Influence the Enforcement of Institutional Change. Journal of Agrarian Change, vol. 17, n. 1, 2017.


11 & 12) Southern Africa: democracy, land and poverty

Readings for all students:

1) J. Saul, The Strange Death of Liberated Southern Africa, Transformation, n. 64, 2007.

2) R. Southall, Threats to Constitutionalism by Liberation Movements in Southern Africa, in Afrika Spectrum, vol. 49, n. 1, 2014.

13) South Africa

Readings for presentations:

1) B. Freund, Post-apartheid South Africa under ANC rule, in Transformation, n.89, 2015, pp. 50-75.

2) R. Hall, Who, what, where, how, why? The many disagreements about land redistribution in South Africa, in C. Walker, B. Cousins (eds), Land Divided, Land Restored, Auckland Park, Jacana, 127-144.

3) C. Walker, Sketch Map to the Future: Restitution Unbound, in C. Walker, B. Cousins (eds), Land Divided, Land Restored, Auckland Park, Jacana, 232-249.

14) Mozambique and Namibia

Readings for presentations:

1) A.M. Gentili, Democracy and Citizenship in Mozambique, in A. Triulzi & M. C. Ercolessi, State, Power and New Political Actors in Postcolonial Africa, Annali della Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2004.

2) H. Melber, Post-liberation Democratic. Authoritarianism: The Case of. Namibia, in Politikon, vol. 42, n. 1, 2015.

15 & 16) Zimbabwe

Letture per tutti:

1) B. Raftopoulos, The Crisis in Zimbabwe 1998-2008, in B. Raftopoulos, Alois Mlambo (eds), Becoming Zimbabwe: A History from the Pre-Colonial Period to 2008, Weaver Press, Harare, 2009, pp.201-232.

2) S. Moyo, Three decades of agrarian reform in Zimbabwe, Journal of Peasant Studies, vol 38, n. 3, 2011.

Letture per presentazioni:

1) R. Southall, Bond notes, borrowing, and heading for bust: Zimbabwe’s persistent crisis, in Canadian Journal of African Studies, vol. 51, n. 3, 2017, 389-405.

2) I. Scoones, Zimbabwe's land reform: new political dynamics in the countryside, in Review of African Political Economy, vol. 42, n. 144, 2015, 190-205.


17) Fighting terrorism in Africa

Readings for all students:

H. Solomon, Critical Terrorism Studies and Its Implications for Africa, in Politikon, vol. 42, n. 2, 2015.

Readings for presentations:

1) D. Anderson, J. McKnigh, Kenya at war: Al-Shabaab and its enemies in Eastern Africa, in African Affairs, vol. 114, n. 454, 2015.

2) W. Iyekekpolo, Boko Haram: Understanding the context, in Third World Quarterly, vol. 37, n. 12, 2016.

18) Violent conflicts

Readings for all students:

1) A.M. Gentili, Ethnicity and Citizenship in Sub Saharan Africa, in P. Chabal, U. Engel & AM Gentili (eds), Is Violence Inevitable in Africa?, Leiden, Brill, 2005.

2) A.M. Gentili, Sovranità e democrazia: dove va il Congo?, «AFRICHE E ORIENTI», 2004, 1-2, pp. 137 - 145.

19) Mali

Readings for presentations:

1) Bergamaschi, I., The Fall of a Donor Darling: The Role of Aid in Mali's Crisis, in Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 52, n. 3, 2014,pp. 347-378

2) R. Marchal, Military (Mis)Adventures in Mali, in African Affairs, vol. 112, n. 448, 2013, pp. 486-497; B. Charbonneau, Intervention in Mali: building peace between peacekeeping and counterterrorism, in Journal of Contemporary African Studies, vol. 35, n. 4, 2017, 415-431.

20) Democratic Republic of the Congo

Readings for presentations:

1) Filip Reyntjens, Regulation, taxation and violence: the state, quasi-state governance and cross-border dynamics in the Great Lakes Region, in Review of African Political Economy, vol., 41, n. 142, 2014, pp. 530-544 + M. Dizolele, The Mirage of Democracy in the DRC, in Journal of Democracy, vol. 21, n. 3, 2010, pp. 143-157.

2) S. Marysse, Regress, War and Fragile Recovery: The Case of the DRCongo, in Filip Reyntjens, S. Marysse (eds), The Political Economy of the Great Lakes Region in Africa.The Pitfalls of Enforced Democracy and Globalization , Basingstoke, Macmillan, 2005 + J. Verweijen, J. Brabant, Cows and guns. Cattle-related conflict and armed violence in Fizi and Itombwe, eastern DR Congo, J. of Modern African Studies, vol. 55, n. 1, 2017.

Teaching methods

Seminars and students' presentations

Assessment methods

The final grade is determined by the student's presentation (max 5/30), active participation (5/30), paper (max 6.000 words) (max 10/30), and the final oral exam on all (and only) compulsory readings (max 10/30).

Teaching tools

Powerpint presentations

Office hours

See the website of Arrigo Pallotti

See the website of