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From the Margins of the State to the Presidential Palace: The Balanta Case in Guinea-Bissau


Balanta farmers of Guinea-Bissau are often regarded by neighboring communities as “backward” and as a people who have refused modern life-worlds. Despite the fact that these farmers played a very important role in the making of Guinea-Bissau, they were progressively removed from power after independence. However, they also developed original forms of contesting marginality. This article portrays the Balanta as complex historical subjects with strategic agendas. It examines the tensions between centrality and marginality in today's Guinea-Bissau and in the Balanta's own ways of imagining their place in the nation.

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Richard Fanthorpe . 1998. “Limba ‘Deep Rural’ Strategies.” Journal of African History 39: 1538.

James Ferguson . 2006. Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Eric Gable . 1995. “The Decolonization of Consciousness: Local Sceptics and the “Will to Be Modern” in a West African Village.” American Ethnologist 22 (2): 242–57.

John Peel . 1978. Qlaju: A Yoruba Concept of Development. The Journal of Development Studies 14 (2): 139–65.

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
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