Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Imagining Africa
Whiteness and the Western Gaze


  • Date Published: November 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108473606

£ 75.00

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • There has been a long history of idealism concerning the potential of economic and political developments in Africa, the latest iteration of which emerged around the time of the 2007–8 global financial crisis. Here, Clive Gabay takes a historical approach to questions concerning change and international order as these apply to Africa in Western imaginaries. Challenging traditional postcolonial accounts that see the West imagine itself as superior to Africa, he argues that the centrality of racial anxieties concerning white supremacy make Africa appear, at moments of Western crisis, as the saviour of Western ideals, specifically democracy, bureaucracy, and neoclassical economic order. Uncommonly, this book turns its lens as much inwards as outwards, interrogating how changing attitudes to Africa over the course of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries correspond to shifting anxieties concerning whiteness, and the growing hope that Africa will be the place where the historical genius of whiteness might be saved and perpetuated.

    • Presents a historical approach to questions concerning change and international order
    • Places race and racism at the centre of changes in and imaginations of international hierarchies
    • Focuses 'inwards' to the changing contours of whiteness, rather than purely 'outwards' to the ways that non-Western regions have been racialised
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Clive Gabay employs a wide-angled lens to focus on the ways in which Euro-American idealisations of 'Africa' - its past, present and future - have continued to underpin the white-dominated racial order over the past hundred years. This painstakingly researched book will help to jolt contemporary conceptualisations of whiteness out of the narrow confines of identity politics (in which it is so often enmired).' Vron Ware, Kingston University

    'Is it possible to be optimistic about Africa? In this beautifully sculpted book, Clive Gabay argues that whiteness frames both negative and positive impressions of the continent. Via a set of empirically rich historical and contemporary investigations, Gabay comprehensively reveals the extent to which whiteness, in international relations, is a narcissism of the highest order.' Robbie Shilliam, The John Hopkins University

    'From black and savage Dark Continent to dynamic rising consumerist titan of the future, Africa has long occupied a special place in the Western imaginary. What Clive Gabay's boldly revisionist and impressively original text demonstrates is that the psychic interplay between maps and mapmakers has always been more complex and subtle than assumed - a dialectic reflecting the ongoing evolution of Whiteness itself from exclusionary phenotypical and eugenicist racial supremacy to putatively colourless institutional placeholder that even blacks (the right kind, of course) can now occupy.' Charles Mills, City University of New York

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108473606
    • length: 278 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 155 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Whiteness, the Western gaze and Africa
    2. Finding anti-civilisation in Africa
    3. Native rights in colonial Kenya: the symbolism of Harry Thuku
    4. 'Exploding Africa': Of post-war modernisers and travellers
    5. The Age of Capricorn: bridging the past to the present
    6. Afropolitanism, and the White-Western incorporation of Africa
    7. Africa rising, whiteness falling
    8. Making whiteness strange

  • Author

    Clive Gabay, Queen Mary University of London
    Clive Gabay is Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. He has been the recipient of a number of prestigious grants and awards and, in 2014, won one of only six British Academy Conference Awards which enabled him to hold a conference at the British Academy called 'Development and its Alternatives', attended by a number of leading scholars, including James C. Scott (Yale) and Phillip McMichael (Cornell). In 2015, he was awarded a highly competitive UK Arts and Humanities Research Council Early Career Leaders Fellowship. Among other outlets, he has published in Globalizations, Review of African Political Economy, and Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.