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Exiting the Whirlpool? Pan-Africanism Caught in the Crossfire of Identity and Globalization

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Abstract:

Africa’s peoples and cultures have been subject to dramatic external interventions and influences enmeshing them firmly within the world capitalist system. The successive population decapitalizations, conquests, colonizations, and associated cultural imperialisms of Arab and European, Islam and Christianity, the slave trade, and more recently the rapid ‘modernization’ and spread of capitalist consumerism have all transformed and internationalized cultures, conceptualizations, and commodities. This increasingly powerful process of convergence has captured the African popular imagination to the extent that ‘globalization’ is as much a subject of media interest as of academic enquiry. Yet convergence and globalization are not all-embracing, unidirectional, and homogenizing processes. Rather, their impact varies greatly in extent and intensity over time, across space, and within and between cultures and social classes. Moreover, counter-movements, both conscious and unpremeditated, are occurring simultaneously. Pan-Africanism has been one such counter-movement. How can a renascent Pan-Africanism assert its identity within these global networks of interconnections? The overall aim of this study is therefore to examine the ways global forces impact upon African societies; the ways in which African societies have an impact upon the globalization process; and the comparative, cross national and cross cultural comparison of global processes as they relate to Africa. Will the Pan-African ideal help the continent to exit the whirlpool of decapitalization and deterritorialization by the ravaging forces of globalization? If so, how? These are the challenging questions facing Pan-African intellectuals and which this paper attempts to grapple with.

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