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  • Cited by 24
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
June 2019
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:
African Studies (143)

Book description

How is it that rural poverty in southern Tanzania appears both easy to explain and yet also mystifying? Why is it that 'development' is such a touchstone, when actual attempts at fostering development have been largely ephemeral and/or unpopular for decades? In this book, Felicitas Becker traces dynamics of rural poverty based on the exportation of foodstuffs rather than the better-known problems connected to exportation of migrant labour, and examines what has kept the development industry going despite its failure to break these dynamics. Becker argues that development planners often exaggerated their prospects to secure funding, repackaged old strategies as new to maintain their promise, and shifted blame onto rural Africans for failing to meet the expectations they had raised. But the rural poor, too, pursued conversations on the causes and morality of poverty and wealth. Despite their dependence and deprivation, officials found repeatedly that they could not take them for granted.


‘The Politics of Poverty thus complements the existing literature on development and poverty in Tanzania, offering another historical account that is anthropologically informed, environmentally minded, and attuned to political-economic dynamics … Practitioners and scholars of development, particularly those with an interest in Tanzania and rural areas more generally, will find this book a useful addition to their libraries.’

Jessica Pouchet Source: International Journal of African Historical Studies

‘The Politics of Poverty successfully provides a detailed historical account of a relatively understudied region - Southeast Tanzania - and at the same time a balanced reflection on development relevant to broader histories of colonial and post-colonial Africa … [It] undoubtedly constitutes an excellent endeavour and will contribute greatly to Africanist and development historiography.’

Michele Sollai Source: Connections

‘It will be of interest to any scholar wanting a more intimate and complicated portrayal of the developmentalist machine that endures in the twenty-first century in regions across the global South.’

Muey Ching Saeteurn Source: Agricultural History

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