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Potent Brews: A Social History of Alcohol in East Africa, 1850-1999 (Eastern African Studies)

Justin Willis

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ISBN 10: 0852554710 / ISBN 13: 9780852554715
Published by James Currey, 2002
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Title: Potent Brews: A Social History of Alcohol in...

Publisher: James Currey

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

About this title


Contributes to an emerging field of African social history in distinctive and innovative ways. Willis's central theme is power - from customary beliefs in alcohol as a symbol of authority and a means of enhancement and privilege, to the use of power in advertising and discourse on the consumption of modern bottled beers and spirits. It is Willis's contention that attitudes towards alcohol have become more similar across the region over time. Willis achieves a full chronological span of nearly two centuries. He lays considerable emphasis upon the late-colonial and post-colonial years; thus bringing out the continuities of these years which historians of eastern Africa have tended to overlook. Oral material from three case study areas in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are integrally woven in with archival and newspaper sources, each reinforcing and elaborating the other. Published in association with The British Institute in Eastern Africa North America: Ohio U Press; Uganda: Fountain Publishers; Kenya: EAEP


This is a valuable work essential to anyone interested in the social history of East Africa. Willis presents a comprehensive survey of the social significance and effects of brewing, local alcohol consumption, and government policies toward alcohol in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. He presents a synthesis of most of the relevant available published and archival material related to alcohol along with information collected from interviews with African informants in one society in each of the three countries covered. ...This is an important and unconsidered field of research. Willis's excellent volume does much to rectify this neglect. - T.O. Beidelman in ANTHROPOS ...a work of impressive scholarship...Potent Brews is a well written, captivating history of the shifting rhetoric and behaviour around alcohol, and can serve as a valuable classroom resource...I would recommend this work for anyone interested in the history of East Africa or the social history of alcohol. Because of the excellent organization and accessible writing style, this book would be useful as an African history text for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses in African history.- Sarah C. Richards in H-AFRICA In Potent Brews, Justin Willis, a British historian of Africa, examines the significance of alcohol in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. The work, which is based on three case studies, includes detailed analysis of power and social relations in these countries...One of Willis's central arguments is that discussions about alcohol are often based on historical fictions. There are some, for instance, who look at traditional African society as a time when drinking was integrated with the rest of life, when alcohol was consumed as part of a collective ritual. ...This, says Willis, belongs to the realms of imagination: private drinking and drunkenness always existed alongside the ritual use of alcohol. - Sousa Jamba in THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT This study provides us with a valuable set of insights into society and culture over a period of very significant changes in east Africa. - Alan Cousins in HISTORY Potent Brews is a comprehensive and absorbing social history that seeks to uncover the connections between alcohol use and power in East African societies over the past 150 years ... . Potent Brews is an impressive social history and is well worth reading - Jeremy Martens in ARAS

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