The Nordic Africa Institute


New book assesses the freedom and relevance of political science in Africa

Liisa Laakso photographed in the corridors of the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, Sweden

Liisa Laakso does research on geopolitics and democratisation in Africa.

Date • 18 Jan 2024

What is the state of the discipline of political science in Africa today? With what level of freedom is it practiced at African universities? These are some of the questions asked – and answered – in the new book Political Science in Africa – Freedom, Relevance, Impact.

Liisa Laakso, Senior Researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, has co-edited the book together with Siphamandla Zondi, Professor at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Johannesburg.

“We hope the book will be valuable to scholars studying academic research and teaching globally. It also provides insights to policymakers in political development and higher education. And of course to political science and international relations students in Africa and beyond,” says Liisa Laakso.

With contributions from African and international scholars, this book tackles subjects such as the decolonization of the political science discipline, political scientists as public intellectuals, and the teaching of political science. This diverse range of perspectives paints a detailed picture of the impact and relevance of the political science discipline on the continent during the struggles for democratization, and the influence it continues to exert today.

“As co-editor, I am particularly happy that we have such a group of diverse and distinguished political scientists who with their own first-hand experience have been ready to reflect and evaluate the discipline in Africa,” Liisa Laakso concludes.

The launch date of the book is 25 January, but already now you can pre-order a copy through External link, opens in new window.. Bibliographical data about the book can be found in our digital repository Diva External link, opens in new window..


Table of content

The chapters of the book.

  1. Political science discipline in Africa: Freedom, relevance, impact
    Liisa Laakso, Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden
  2. Political science and the study of Africa: Mapping the theoretical and conceptual terrain
    Shadrack Wanjala Nasong'o, Rhodes College, Memphis, USA
  3. Political science and development management: Parallel tracks and critical junctures in Africa
    Göran Hydén, University of Florida, USA
  4. Mainstreaming decolonisation in political science in Africa
    Eghosa E. Osaghae, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  5. What does the decolonial turn for political sciences in Africa entail? And where do we start?
    Siphamandla Zondi, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  6. A neglected subject: The politics of mourning the (de)humanised
    Lebohang Motsomotso, University of South Africa, South Africa
  7. Political science for whom? Reflections on teaching and learning political science in selected African universities
    Christopher Isike & Olumuyiwa B. Amao, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  8. Policy studies as a sub-discipline of political science in Africa: Teachings, research trends and professional expertise in Cameroon
    Ruth Mireille Manga Edimo, University of Yaounde II, Cameroon
  9. Beyond disciplinary polemics? The challenge of informal structures in the study of local political institutions in Africa
    Matthew Sabbi, Universität Bayreuth, Germany
  10. Ethnicity and democracy in Africa: A comparative study of Ghana and Nigeria
    Maame Adwoa A. Gyekye-Jandoh, University of Ghana, Ghana
  11. Research on gender, women and politics in Africa: Contributions and innovations
    Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso, Brandeis University, USA & Aili Mari Tripp, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  12. The impact of political science research on teaching political science in Southern Africa
    Njekwa Mate, University of Zambia, Zambia
  13. Use of empirical data in research and teaching of political science in Africa
    Olugbemiga S. Afolabi, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria & University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  14. Political scientists as public intellectuals in Africa: Perspectives on relevance
    Adigun Agbaje, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  15. Political scientists and intellectuals in the political evolution of Cameroon: 1960-2020
    Fabien Nkot, Molo Helene Amelie & Isa Adamu, University of Yaounde II, Cameroon
  16. A critical review of the state of academic freedom in Ghana's public universities: From pre-independence till the Fourth Republic
    Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, University of Ghana, Ghana
  17. The politics of political science in Africa: An afterword
    Siphamandla Zondi, University of Johannesburg, South Africa



“The authors marshal in an impressive database that explains the epistomological grounding of the discipline, shows its contemporary relevance and, seen collectively, they help re-centre the study of political science in a very dynamic continent.”

Godwin R. Murunga, Executive Secretary, CODESRIA

“This book is a powerful compendium of analyses and suggestions for further study that are key to understanding the current state of political science on the continent.”

Nadine Machikou, Deputy President of the African Association of Political Science

“This book is an invitation to the fruitful and ambiguous adventure of political science in Africa. It brings together several national experiences.”

Luc Sindjoun, Former President of the African Association of Political Science

“The book provides a comprehensive overview of how political science in, and about, Africa has contributed to answering the key question about how we should govern ourselves and live together in our policies in line with the current thinking in the discipline.”

Cheryl Hendricks, Executive Director, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, South Africa


More from the same series

Political Science in Africa – Freedom, Relevance, Impact is the latest title in the book series Africa Now, published by the Nordic Africa Institute in collaboration with Bloomsbury. You can find previous titles here External link..