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Book review – Eurafrique

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Even though the European Union has been Africa’s largest trading partner over the last five decades, this is an area in which few African institutions have produced academically rigorous and policy-relevant knowledge. This volume seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the historically difficult relationship between Africa and the EU in the areas of history, politics, economics, security, migration, and identity.

The Centre for Conflict Resolution in Cape Town, South Africa, organised two research and policy seminars on relations between Africa and the EU in October/November 2007 and September 2008. Both meetings sought to foster greater understanding of the political, economic, and security aspects of this important relationship. The policy briefs and reports produced from the seminars were later revised and form the backbone of this book.
The essays in this volume confront the historical, political, socioeconomic, and cultural dimensions of the European Union’s relationship with Africa. Following the high imperial period of the nineteenth century, many in Europe encouraged the development of a partnership called “Eurafrique,” which would have granted European industries privileged access to African resources. This book begins with Europe’s attempts to refashion its relations with Africa, particularly after several countries achieved independence in the 1960s. At the same time, it details the historical processes behind Europe’s own quest for unity and follows with an exploration of the strategic aspects of Europe and Africa’s relationship today.
Contributors particularly focus on the place of Africa within the EU’s pursuit of global partnerships. Key topics include trade and investment, security and governance, migration and identity, and the potential legacy of contemporary relations. The volume closely analyzes key European players, such as France, Britain, Portugal, and Scandinavia, within the context of the EU. It also examines Europe’s controversial immigration policies and complex interactions with the Maghreb and the Mediterranean, as well as perceptions of past and present European identity. The study concludes with a probing look at whether Africa and Europe have escaped the burden of their shared history and whether a future “Afro-Europa” relationship, defined by genuine equality, partnership, and mutual self-interest, can be achieved.

Adekeye Abedayo and Kaye Whiteman (editors), The EU and Africa, from Eurafrique to Afro-Europa, Hurst & Co, London 2012, pp. xiv + 531.

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