In This Review

Essays on the Political Economy of Rural Africa
Essays on the Political Economy of Rural Africa
By Robert H. Bates
University of California Press, 1987, 178 pp

In this revised paperback edition of his 1981 Markets and States in Tropical Africa, the author builds in part on his earlier work but extends his purview to the colonial and precolonial periods, exploring the interaction of private interests with public institutions and policy. Of particular value is a brilliant examination of forces leading to the centralization of societies still highly fragmented, based on historical and ethnographic reports from 36 African societies. Looking at relationships in the evolution of central political institutions and ecology, trade and level of conflicts, Bates focuses on conditions that abet the emergence of "dominant actors."