Alcohol in Africa: Mixing Business, Pleasure, and Politics
Alcohol in Sub-Saharan Africa has historically been a conduit for religious and political expression controlled by male elders. Over the past century and especially during the last two crisis-ridden decades, alcohol's ceremonial role has been largely displaced. Rapid income differentiation and economic marginalization have spurred production and consumption of alcohol. In many localities, expanding supply has led to drinking patterns that impinge on general social welfare. These circumstances coincide with the continent-wide implementation of structural adjustment and economic liberalization policies. One might ask, have those policies driven people to drink?
Currently, alcohol is a taboo subject for donors and African governments alike, yet it is at the nexus of many of the continent's most pressing problems. Agricultural sector decline, large-scale labor redundancy, household instability, and AIDS have cause or effect linkages to changing alcohol usage. This edited collection explores the economic, political, and social meanings of alcohol usage. The material is contextualized within a review of existing anthropological, social history, and social welfare literature on alcohol, and a broad historical overview of the continental trends in alcohol production and consumption. Both the pleasure and the pain of alcohol usage emerge, providing insight into the ambiguity of alcohol in Africa today.
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The spiraling costs of transporting the relatively low, uncapitalized agricultural
output of widely scattered peasant households to centers of urban demand and
ports caused the already inefficient parastatals that transported and processed
SURMISING CONTINENTAL TRENDS IN ALCOHOL SUPPLY The extent of
cottage alcohol production in rural and urban areas across the continent cannot
be estimated with any accuracy. Studies of alcohol consumption tend to be highly
The move of many independent churches from rural areas into the cities in
conjunction with increasing rural-urban migration in the period just before and
after World War II also influenced attitudes toward alcohol. Although Malawi is
still one of ...
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