University of Oxford During the past thirty years policy makers and students of other regions have marginalized Africa as inherently different from the rest of the world in the era of globalization; the global ‘other’ locked in a ghetto of failed states and ethnic hatreds. James Ferguson has called this a reconstitution in intellectually more sophisticated language of the ‘darkest Africa’ imaginary of the 19th century. Africa is, as a result, ignored in most comparative analyses of globalization and its consequences for the rest of the world. We have, however, argued for Africa’s central place in globalization both in the past and during the last three decades, and that African experience is both intimately linked with developments in other regions and both shadow and portent of global change. And this experience also raises in important ways key theoretical and methodological issues regarding the understanding of complexity and contingency in comparative analysis. We wish to explore this issue with regards to the following three topics: 1) African ethnic and religious responses to globalization and the impact on economic growth 2) African ethnic and religious politics in the context of democratization and constitution‐making 3) Africa in the global context of multi-cultural societies, diasporas and transnational politics.