Angola’s Political Developments in Historical and Comparative Perspective
Since the peace accords in 2002, some major political events have taken place in Angola. In September 2008, parliamentary elections were held, marking a victory for the ruling MPLA (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola) party. Presidential elections were planned for 2010, although it is as yet unclear whether or not these will actually be held. This volume offering an analysis of Angola’s political economy is a most welcome contribution to understand these crucial political developments in the country. The authors of the various essays frame their interpretation of Angola’s recent past in its historical context. This is rare for Angolan studies: most of the literature takes either a historical perspective or a contemporary focus. Apart from the combination of political history and recent events within Angola itself, some clear attempts are made to arrive at a comparative perspective and frame Angola’s political developments in the wider African context.
It is a pity, however, that the editors do not discuss the relations between the various chapters and refrain from engaging in an explicit discussion about the historical and the comparative perspective in the volume. This creates a problem of cohesion, as some of the authors (notably Newitt and Messiant) interpret Angola’s political economy within its own specific historical dynamics, while other chapters (by Vidal and especially Chabal) seem to contradict this by stressing that the political events in Angola are better framed within the wider African context. An overall introduction or concluding chapter would have helped to identify and analyze such contradictions and added to the internal cohesion of the volume. The guiding principle, that Angola’s present condition must be put in historical perspective, remains a fruitful one.
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