13 December 2016: Studying the end of the Cold War and the breakdown of state enterprises in West Africa as social history: the Benin case, 1988–1990
Studying the end of the Cold War and the breakdown of state enterprises in West Africa as social history: the Benin case, 1988–1990
Normally, it is held that archival series are no possible source for writing the post-independence history of (West) African societies. Archives are said to be unavailable or extremely fragmented at best. The lack of analytical studies on the post-independence trajectories of most African countries is an outcome of this belief.
I would like to challenge this perspective by showing that, probably, in many cases, but obviously in the case of the former African Socialist model country, Benin of the Kérékou era, the breakdown of the state system can indeed be interpreted through rich archival data. Even more, only the use of particular types of archival documentation allow us to finally address this story as a social history, one that puts the focus on the experiences of the victims of downsizing the Benin state economy. My discussion will especially focus on the years of the transition shortly before the democratization of Benin in 1991.
More information about Alexander Keese can be found here.