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A Certain Amount of Madness

A Certain Amount of Madness

The Life, Politics and Legacies of Thomas Sankara

Edited by Amber Murrey

Series: Black Critique



(with free eBook)





Celebrating and critiquing the life of one of Africa’s most important anti-imperialist leaders

Thomas Sankara was one of Africa's most important anti-imperialist leaders of the late 20th Century. His declaration that fundamental socio-political change would require a 'certain amount of madness' drove the Burkinabe Revolution and resurfaced in the country's popular uprising in 2014.

This book looks at Sankara's political philosophies and legacies and their relevance today. Analyses of his synthesis of Pan-Africanism and humanist Marxist politics, as well as his approach to gender, development, ecology and decolonisation offer new insights to Sankarist political philosophies. Critical evaluations of the limitations of the revolution examine his relationship with labour unions and other aspects of his leadership style. His legacy is revealed by looking at contemporary activists, artists and politicians who draw inspiration from Sankarist thought in social movement struggles today, from South Africa to Burkina Faso.

In the 30th anniversary of his assassination, this book illustrates how Sankara's political praxis continues to provide lessons and hope for decolonisation struggles today.

Amber Murrey is Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at The American University in Cairo, Egypt. Her award-winning research considers contemporary Pan-Africanism, resistance to neo-colonial violence, resource extraction and decolonisation. She has been published in a variety of academic journals, including Third World Quarterly, Political Geography, The Journal of Black Studies, The Postcolonialist and Capital and Class. She is the editor of A Certain Amount of Madness (Pluto, 2018).

'The legendary Thomas Sankara - hero, revolutionary leader, anti-imperialist - receives deserving analytical treatment from the most prominent radical voices here assembled for one the greatest sons of Africa. The book enhances our understanding of the pragmatism of politics, the rhetoric of revolutionary actions, and the resurgence of reactionary forces. A must read' - Toyin Falola, Honorary Professor, University of Cape Town, University Distinguished Professor and Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities, The University of Texas at Austin

'This book by a wide range of committed scholars, including, crucially, a significant number of African scholars, is a necessary and illuminating intervention. The Sankara that emerges here is more than 'Africa's Che Guevara', a man whose ideas and politics are 'rich with a thousand nuances' that distinguish them from other forms of Marxism and Pan-Africanism. Sankara comes alive in all his complexity' - Sean Jacobs, Associate Professor of International Affairs at The New School and Founder and Editor, Africa is a Country

'Students of African Studies in particular and anyone else interested in a detailed account of unsung African heroes would appreciate this beautiful compilation' - African Studies Review

Preface by Horace G. Campbell
Introduction by Amber Murrey
Part I: Life & Revolution
1. An Anatomy Of Sankara’s Political Leadership and the Burkinabè Revolution (1983-1987) by De-Valera Nym Botchway and Moussa Traore
2. The Perils of Non-Alignment: Thomas Sankara and the Cold War by Brian Peterson
3. Thomas Sankara and the Elusive Revolution by Leo Zeilig
4. When Visions Collide: Thomas Sankara, Trade Unions and the Revolution in Burkina Faso, 1983-1987 by Craig Phelan
5. Africa’s Sankara: On Pan-African Leadership by Amber Murrey
6. Who Killed Thomas Sankara? by Bruno Jaffré
7. ‘Incentivized’ Self-Adjustment: Reclaiming Sankara’s Revolutionary Austerity from Corporate Geographies of Neoliberal Erasure by Nicholas A. Jackson
Part II: Political Philosophies
8. Madmen, Thomas Sankara and Decoloniality in Africa by Ama Biney
9. With the People: Sankara’s Humanist Marxism by Ernest Harsch
10. Thomas Sankara & Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem: The Untimely Deaths of Two New Generation African Visionaries by Patricia Daley
11. Women's Freedoms are the Heartbeat of Africa's Future: A Sankarian Imperative by Patricia McFadden
12. Re-Reading Sankara’s Philosophy for a Praxeology of Debt in Contemporary Times by Sakue-C. Yimovie
13. Sankara’s Political Ideas and Pan-African Solidarity: A Perspective for Africa’s Development? by Felix Kumah-Abiwu and Olusoji Alani Odeyemi
14. ‘Revolution and Women’s Liberation go Together’: Thomas Sankara, Gender and the Burkina Faso Revolution by Evelyn N. Mayanja
Part III: Legacies
15. Balai Citoyen: A New Praxis of Citizen Fight with Sankarist Inspirations by Zakaria Soré
16. La Santé Avant Tout: Health Before Everything by T. D. Harper-Shipman
17. Social Movement Struggles and Political Transition in Burkina Faso by Bettina Engles
18. To Decolonize the World: Thomas Sankara and the ‘Last Colony’ in Africa by Patrick Delices
19. ‘Daring to Invent the Future’: Sankara’s Legacy and Contemporary Activism in South Africa by Levi Kabwato and Sarah Chiumbu
Part IV: Contestations and Homages
20. Academy as Contested Space: Disappearing Sankara from the ‘Acceptable Avant-Garde’ by Nicholas Jackson
21. The Construction of a ‘Sankara Myth’: A Hero Trend in Contemporary Burkinabè Urban & Revolutionary Propaganda Art by Sophie Bodénès Cohen
22. Slanted Photography: Reflections on Sankara and My Peace Corps Experience in Burkina Faso by Clestina Agyekum
23. ‘We are All Sankara’s Children’: Memories as Weapons during the Burkinabe Protests by Fiona Dragstra
Afterword by Aziz Fall
Published by Pluto Press in Mar 2018
Paperback ISBN: 9780745337579
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745337586
eBook ISBN: 9781786802255

400 pages

150mm x 230mm

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