Coups from Below: Armed Subalterns and State Power in West Africa

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9781403967152: Coups from Below: Armed Subalterns and State Power in West Africa

Coups from Below represents the first major effort at studying coups carried out by the lumpen section or the subalterns of the armed forces of African states. No previous study has attempted to examine coup making by those in the bottom ranks of the military as a distinct pattern of intervention in African studies. Kandeh examines this pattern as broadly symptomatic of state failure, especially the inability of political leaders to institutionalize power, eradicate mass poverty and promote socioeconomic development.

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About the Author:

Jimmy Kandeh is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Richmond.

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"This is indeed a pioneering study on a critical aspect (subaltern class) of the military and politics in Africa that has not received any attention in the scholarly literature. In Coups From Below, Jimmy Kandeh does an outstanding job in helping our understanding of the ways in which the subaltern class within the military in West African States has seized and mismanaged state power. Clearly, this work is a major contribution to the field of security studies." - George Klay Kieh, Jr., Chair & Professor of Political Science, Morehouse College

"Coups from Below is a highly useful, important, and rare comparative study of subaltern military coups in West Africa that ties them directly to the failure of civilian elites to cultivate popular political legitimacy and curb or resist the formation of patronage oligarchies." - John Harbeson, Professor of Political Science, City College of New York and the Graduate Center

"Jimmy Kandeh has written an important, theoretically sophisticated, and empirically grounded analysis of subaltern military coups in Ghana, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and Gambia. His work is a welcome and significant publication that helps us more fully understand the causes of instability and the class struggles that have become manifest among military forces in West Africa. Kandeh is consistently objective in his examination of "coups from below" while at the same time providing accurate evaluations of the political, social, and economic consequences of these coups. His volume will have lasting value for both the neophyte and experts interested in either African or military politics." - Ricardo René Larémont, Associate Professor of Political Science and Sociology, SUNY/Binghamton

"This is a brilliant piece of Africanist scholarship. The author carefully situates his analysis within the context of the general normative and empirical theoretical literature on the military in politics, particularly as this relates to the developing world. He then frames his analysis while being informed by the historical literature on the military in African politics, and then more specifically, the history of the military in his five case studies (Liberia, Ghana, Gambia, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone). The book aims to shed light on the particular character of coups in West African states. They are found to be waged and/or supported by the subaltern militariat, the lowest class within the military corporate structure. The author attempts to situate his analysis within the context of class analysis, and finds that this is first and foremost a "struggle about class before it is a struggle among classes." The subalterns assume dominance over their superiors, but at the same time they do not form alliances with the lower classes in the wider society. The intervention of armed subalterns into politics is by nature violent, but can be tempered by the personality of certain leaders. This book is a refreshing treatment of the military in African politics which comes at a time when this subject has long been neglected. It is must reading for the serious student of African politics." - Edmond J. Keller, Department of Political Science, University of California at Los Angles

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