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Democracy in Africa (Dr Nic Cheeseman): book talk

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Sharath Srinivasan.

Join us for a book talk, followed by drinks, with Dr Nic Cheeseman (Oxford University), the author of Democracy in Africa (OUP, 2015).


This book provides the first comprehensive overview of the history of democracy in Africa and explains why the continent’s democratic experiments have so often failed, as well as how they could succeed. Nic Cheeseman grapples with some of the most important questions facing Africa and democracy today, including whether international actors should try and promote democracy abroad, how to design political systems that manage ethnic diversity, and why democratic governments often make bad policy decisions. Beginning in the colonial period with the introduction of multi-party elections and ending in 2013 with the collapse of democracy in Mali and South Sudan, the book describes the rise of authoritarian states in the 1970s; the attempts of trade unions and some religious groups to check the abuse of power in the 1980s; the remarkable return of multiparty politics in the 1990s; and finally, the tragic tendency for elections to exacerbate corruption and violence.

‘Accessible yet authoritative and often provocative, Nic Cheeseman provides an exceptional history of contemporary democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa … Buttressed by compelling examples and statistics from seemingly every country in the region, this book is must reading for anyone interested in African politics.’

— Nicolas van de Walle, Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Government, Cornell University

About the author

Nic Cheeseman ( is Associate Professor of African Politics at Oxford University. He is the co-editor of the collections Our Turn to Eat (2010), The Handbook of African Politics (2013), and African Politics: Major Works (2016), as well as the co-author of the article “Rethinking the ‘presidentialism debate’: Conceptualizing coalitional politics in cross-regional perspective” (Democratization, 2014), which won the inaugural GIGA prize for the best article published in Comparative Area Studies. A monograph, Democracy in Africa: Successes, failures and the struggle for political reform was published by Cambridge University Press in April 2015, and an edited collection on African political institutions is set to be published by CUP in early 2017. Dr Cheeseman is also the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, a former editor of the journal African Affairs and an advisor to, and writer for, Kofi Annan’s African Progress Panel.

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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