Professor Abdel Ghaffar M. Ahmed, a noted Sudanese anthropologist, has put together an important collection of essays on the Sudan that highlights the country's critical role in the development of anthropology in Europe and Africa and in studies of social change and development in rural Africa. Nobody is in a better position to tell this story than the author himself, a scholar and innovator who has emerged as one of the continent's leading anthroplogists and a spokesperson for the discipline.
This book is a testimony to Professor Abdel Ghaffar's significant contributions to anthropology and the social sciences generally in Africa and around the world. In putting together a collection of well-written essays spanning more than 25 years of serious scolarship, the author skilfully shows the strenghts and weaknesses of anthropology for Africa and Africans themselves. Buries in the guilt of its colonial association, anthropology has served both as an exploitive and more recently a liberating force on the continent, and Professor Abdel Ghaffar nicely documents these contradictory processes. He rightfully scorns the discipline for its contributions to the colonial enterprise, but also shows how its methods, its focus on the `local', and its holistic approach holds great promise in contributing to social and economic development on the continent and to addressing its gripping problems.
Unlike many critics of anthroplogy and development, professor Abdel Ghaffar does not propose in this book a disengagement from development, but rather a critical and informed engagement that questions the modernization paradigm but does not accept a wholesale rejection of development. From the perspective of an African anthropologist within a discipline that has such a strong colonial legacy, the author shows how a development anthropology can serve as a progressive force on the continent, a theme that is highlighted in several of the books chapters.