How Europe Underdeveloped Africa
Rodney’s classic study of the impact of European capitalism on the continent of Africa continues to provoke, inspire, and educate – it resonates more than ever before.
Angela Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz
Few books have been as influential in understanding African impoverishment as this groundbreaking analysis. Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
With oppression and liberation his main concern, he ‘delves into the past’, as he says in his preface, ‘only because otherwise it would be impossible to understand how the present came into being … In the search for an understanding of what is now called “underdevelopment” in Africa, the limits of inquiry have had to be fixed as far apart as the fifteenth century, on the one hand, and the end of the colonial period, on the other hand.’ He argues that ‘African development is possible only on the basis of a radical break with the international capitalist system, which has been the principal agency of underdevelopment of Africa over the last five centuries’.
His Marxist analysis went far beyond previously accepted approaches and changed the way both third world development and colonial history are studied.
Although first published in 1972, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa remains an essential introduction to understanding the dynamics of Africa’s contemporary relations with the West and is a powerful legacy of a committed thinker.
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