In This Review

Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt
Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt
By James Ferguson
University of California Press, 1999, 343 pp

Ferguson is an astute analyst of ideologies of development and the misunderstandings they can generate. In this impressive study of economic decay and its social impact in Zambia, he brilliantly challenges the lingering assumptions of modernization theory to show how mineworkers are adapting to ever-shrinking incomes, diminished self-respect, and growing dependence on rural kinship networks for support in their old age. He focuses mainly on the micropolitical economy of the miners who make or prepare to make a painful migration back to the land. He also deconstructs the mythology of modernization that pervaded the anthropology of central Africa 40 years ago, in particular its misreading of trends in African family life. In his conclusion, Ferguson unleashes a broadside against the brutalities of a global capitalism that can so cruelly dash the aspirations of a country like Zambia and calls for a new politicized humanitarianism to push the issue of global inequalities higher on the world's agenda.