Africa and the Expansion of International Society : Surrendering the Savannah book cover
1st Edition

Africa and the Expansion of International Society
Surrendering the Savannah

ISBN 9781138287846
Published November 8, 2016 by Routledge

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Book Description

This book explores the West-Central African role in, and experience during, the expansion of international society.

Building upon theoretical contributions from the English School of international relations, historical sociology and sociology, it departs from Euro-centric assumptions by analysing how West-Central Africa and West-Central Africans were integral to the ways in which Europe and Africa came together from the fifteenth century through to the twentieth. Initially, diverse scholarship concerned with the expansion of international society is examined, revealing how the process has often been understood as one dictated by Europeans. From there a new approach is developed, one which is better able to examine the expansion as an interactive process between individuals, and which puts the African experience at the heart of study. The empirical research that follows this draws upon primary sources to introduce a number of historically significant and ground-breaking cases into international relations, including; the international relations of West-Central Africa before the European arrival, the emergence and growth of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the attempts to ‘civilize’ Africa, and the ‘scramble’ to colonize Africa. This book argues that the expansion of international society was driven by individual interaction, and was shaped by both Africans and Europeans.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars of international relations, international relations theory, history, African politics, the English school and constructivism.

Author John Anthony Pella introduces his book African and the Expansion of International Society: Surrendering the Savannah 

Table of Contents

1. Introduction, 2. Studying the expansion of international society, 3. Towards a deeper empirical and theoretical understanding, 4. The West-Central African system, 1300-1434, 5. Constructing the trans-Atlantic slave trade, 1434-1820, 6. The obligation to civilize, 1775-1875, 7. Competition and colonization, 1859-1900, 8. Conclusion

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John Anthony Pella, Jr. is a Research Fellow at the Department of Diplomacy in the School for International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University, China.


This book not only throws light on important developments in world history, but it also makes a significant contribution to the theoretical understanding of international relations. As such, it represents an important contribution to the IR literature. In contrast to the euro-centric approach of the classical English School, John Anthony Pella, Jr. provides a fascinating account of the evolution of international society in West-Central Africa.  A 'must' read for all those interested in English School theory and particularly those focusing on the evolution of international society, as well as the study of the society of states at the regional level. Yannis A. Stivachtis, Department of Poltical Science, Virginia Tech. Chair, English School Section, ISA.

Africa is all too often treated merely as a victim -- of European colonialism, or of its own conflicts, epidemics, famines and corruption. What John Pella shows in this book is that African societies are agents -- agents who created their own international system and who actively have continued to interact with the rest of the world. This is to take Africa seriously. This is also far more sophisticated scholarship. Erik Ringmar, professor of political science, Lund University, Sweden.