Book review: Rita Abrahamsen, Disciplining Democracy: Development Discourse and Good Governance in Africa

AuthorBesfat D. Engdaw
Publication Date01 Mar 2021
SubjectBook Reviews
134 Book Reviews
and can outdo anything nature has to offer need to listen to Albert Einstein’s
(2011) profound observation, ‘The harmony of natural law … reveals an intelli-
gence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and
acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection’.
The book is a product of great scholarship. It is written in a lucid style and
makes smooth reading. Govind Bhattacharjee has woven together a fascinating
account of the evolution of brain and how it has helped in the growth and progress
of human beings. It is a must read for serious scholars, who want to understand
how modern scientific knowledge has evolved and developed to its present stage
of fruition.
Einstein, A. (2011). The world as I see it. Open Road Media.
Rees, M. (2004). Our final century. Arrow.
B. P. Mathur (Authored books on economy and governance related issues)
Former Deputy Comptroller & Auditor General and
Former Director National Institute of Financial Management
Rita Abrahamsen, Disciplining Democracy: Development Discourse and
Good Governance in Africa. New York: Zed Books, 2000, XV+168 pp.,
$22.50 (paperback), ISBN:1-85649-859-X; $65.00 (hardback), ISBN:
DOI: 10.1177/0019556121996232
The book written by Rita Abrahamsen, titled Disciplining Democracy:
Development Discourse and Good Governance in Africa, has seven parts; each
part is discussed in depth. In the first chapter, the author is sceptical of the concept
of good governance. Before 1990s, when the cold war was phenomenal, the
Norths were focused on the structural reforms or economic reforms. However, in
the aftermath of the cold war, when the ideological races vanished, the Norths
brought the concept of good governance to support countries that were following
their footsteps and scathe those who did not. The author argue that apart from the
conventional account, the concept of good governance has been induced to main-
tain the western hegemony in the Third World. The same chapter addresses how
development discourses have been produced and constructed to label the Third
World as underdeveloped and positioned them in a hierarchical and unequal rela-
tionship to the First World. The author has further discussed how this discourse
continues to justify and legitimatise the right of the North to intervene, control and
develop the South. The book indicated that the concepts like democratisation,
development and good governance are discourses that have been shaped by the
international forces and granted with interventions to perpetuate the unequal
relationship between the Third and First Worlds.

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