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Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics: Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa (Hardback)
  • Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics: Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa (Hardback)
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Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics: Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa (Hardback)

(author)
£77.00
Hardback 220 Pages / Published: 24/04/1992
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Most African countries have a population composed of a multitude of language groups and most African citizens have a varied repertoire allowing them to rely on different languages for use in the home, at school, in the market, at work and in communicating with political authorities. Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa analyses the complex language scene in Africa today and asks whether this distinctive web of language use is symptomatic of the early stage of state construction. If so, one would expect that as each of these states develops there will be a rationalisation of language use and agreement on a common language within the country's borders. Alternately, Africa's language scene may be the result of a particular historical context of state construction, with the implication that political development will not lead to the one-state, one-language outcome typical of the idealised nation-state.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521413435
Number of pages: 220
Weight: 500 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"David Laitin has combined an erudite discussion of contemporary language conditions in Africa (and India) and an elegant analysis of the oppositions and dilemmas of language-reform policy, all in one slim and highly readable volume." Abram de Swann, Contemporary Sociology
"[S]ociolinguists, language planners, and those generally interested in language in Africa will find Laitin's approach an important tool for the analysis of those linguistically complex states in which multilingualism is the norm....Well researched and lucidly written, this volume abounds with detail on individual language situations, and is therefore valuable as a general overview of the continent....Potential readers from disciplines other than Laitin's own should not be daunted by the fact that Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa is part of a political science series. The study is well conceived and contributes much to a relatively understudied field." Fiona McLaughlin, Anthropological Linguistics
"...represents a new and unique analysis of multilingualism in Africa. From his perspective as a political scientist, Laitin brings an enlightening interdisciplinary approach to this subject matter, which has traditionally been the domain of the linguist and the sociologist, and the so-called 'language planners'....I found Laitin's book to be remarkably enlightening. I feel that part of its significance lies in his demonstrated ability to provide a theoretical framework through which historians, political scientists, developmental economists, and other (non-linguistic) social scientists can become more aware of the great importance of multilingualism and 'language outcomes' as factors to be reckoned with in post-colonial Africa. He succeeds admirably at making us cognizant of a wide range of considerations demonstrating the importance that traditionally underacknowledged 'language repertoires' play in African societies." John Hutchinson, International Journal of African Historical Studies
"...an elegant and compelling analysis of language politics and policy choice in Africa, by a long distance the most comprehensive undertaken in any field...In a mere 164 pages of text, Laitin sketches an amazingly comprehensive portrait. In its scope and succinctness, this comparative study is a model...a masterful analysis of one of the most important aspects of identity politics in Africa and elsewhere. It is must reading for all students of African politics, as well as those concerned with the comparative politics of cultural pluralism." Crawford Young, American Political Science Review

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