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African Socialism in Postcolonial Tanzania
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Book description

Drawing on a wide range of oral and written sources, this book tells the story of Tanzania's socialist experiment: the ujamaa villagization initiative of 1967–75. Inaugurated shortly after independence, ujamaa ('familyhood' in Swahili) both invoked established socialist themes and departed from the existing global repertoire of development policy, seeking to reorganize the Tanzanian countryside into communal villages to achieve national development. Priya Lal investigates how Tanzanian leaders and rural people creatively envisioned ujamaa and documents how villagization unfolded on the ground, without affixing the project to a trajectory of inevitable failure. By forging an empirically rich and conceptually nuanced account of ujamaa, African Socialism in Postcolonial Tanzania restores a sense of possibility and process to the early years of African independence, refines prevailing theories of nation building and development, and expands our understanding of the 1960s and 70s world.


'An eloquent, engaging and immensely gratifying work. Priya Lal’s nuanced analysis of the complexities and contradictions of the imaginaries, implementation and experiences of ujamaa not only challenges dominant readings of Tanzanian history (and African history more broadly), but provides a sophisticated model for how oral and archival history can be interwoven and why this kind of history matters.'

Dorothy L. Hodgson - Rutgers University, New Jersey

'This beautifully crafted, subtly argued study offers a penetrating reassessment of ujamaa, the villagization project that transformed property ownership, agricultural production, and urban life in postcolonial Tanzania. Highlighting local agency, it offers new insight into an endeavor that was emblematic of African socialism and the third way of the global south.'

Elizabeth Schmidt - Loyola University, Maryland

'This is a superb, richly textured book. Priya Lal not only offers a very nuanced and convincing historical interpretation of the probably most ambitious version of African Socialism, ujamaa in Tanzania. Her study also carefully contextualizes this case within the broader framework of transformations that took place in Africa and the world during the 1960s and 70s.'

Andreas Eckert - Humboldt University Berlin

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