Clive Gabay’s New Book: ‘Imagining Africa: Whiteness and the Western Gaze’

The book discusses the long history of idealism concerning the potential of economic and political developments in Africa, the latest iteration of which emerged around the time of the 2007-8 global financial crisis. Gabay takes a historical approach to questions concerning change and international order as these apply to Africa in Western imaginaries. Challenging traditional postcolonial accounts that see the West imagine itself as superior to Africa, he argues that the centrality of racial anxieties concerning white supremacy make Africa appear, at moments of Western crisis, as the saviour of Western ideals, specifically democracy, bureaucracy, and neoclassical economic order. Uncommonly, this book turns its lens as much inwards as outwards, interrogating how changing attitudes to Africa over the course of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries correspond to shifting anxieties concerning whiteness, and the growing hope that Africa will be the place where the historical genius of whiteness might be saved and perpetuated.

Dr Clive Gabay is Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. He has been the recipient of a number of prestigious grants and awards and, in 2014, won one of only six British Academy Conference Awards which enabled him to hold a conference at the British Academy called evelopment and its Alternatives’, attended by a number of leading scholars, including James C. Scott (Yale) and Phillip McMichael (Cornell). In 2015, he was awarded a highly competitive UK Arts and Humanities Research Council Early Career Leaders Fellowship. Among other outlets, he has published in Globalizations, Review of African Political Economy, and Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies.

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