African Studies Gabon
by
Jeremy Rich
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 April 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0006

Introduction

Located in West Central Africa, Gabon is a country on the South Atlantic coast. The equator passes through the center of the country. Largely made up of rainforests, Gabon has been the home of small communities since at least 75,000 BC. The slave trade had a dramatic effect on Gabonese societies, especially after the late 18th century. French colonization began in 1839, but the French did not occupy all of the territory within the current borders of the country until the turn of the 20th century. Colonization brought great hardship to many Gabonese, but the Western-educated elite in Gabon favored close ties with France in the decade before independence in 1960. Postcolonial Gabon has been characterized by authoritarian rule, the rise of mining and petroleum exports, the rising numbers of Gabonese immigrants, and concerns about the environment. Compared to most other African countries, relatively little scholarship exists on Gabon, but this situation has improved dramatically since the late 1990s as more and more Gabonese scholars have published their research. Major themes in the scholarship of Gabon include the impact of the slave trade, French colonization, rainforest ecology, indigenous spirituality, and the long reign of the Parti Démocratique Gabonais political party after decolonization. Most literature on Gabon is in French. However, a growing number of Anglophone researchers have also produced scholarship on the country. No scholarship has yet been produced in any Gabonese language. Researchers should be forewarned that many sources on Gabon are fairly rare in North America outside of research university libraries.

Bibliographies

There are relatively few bibliographic works on Gabon. Gardinier and Yates 2006 is the single most comprehensive bibliography on scholarship on Gabon, but it does not include the extensive number of publications by Gabonese researchers since 2006. It should be mandatory reading for any undergraduate or graduate researcher on Gabon. Biyogo 2011 is an extremely important annotated bibliography of Gabonese scholarship in French but is not useful for finding works in English or other languages. Mpenga and Hubert 2010 is a lengthy bibliography that includes more works than Biyogo 2011 but has no annotations. Mianzenza 2013 offers a list (mainly in French) of doctoral dissertations on Gabon in the five decades since independence in 1960.

  • Biyogo, Grégoire. Corpus des Corpus: Répertoire des auteurs et des livres du Gabon. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2011.

    E-mail Citation »

    Biyogo, a Gabonese philosopher, has written the first lengthy annotated bibliography of Gabonese authors. This is a unique resource because it provides biographical information as well as summaries of various works. It includes sections on linguistics, literature, philosophy, the arts, law, and indigenous spiritual traditions.

  • Gardinier, David E., and Douglas A. Yates. Historical Dictionary of Gabon. 3d ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

    E-mail Citation »

    This book is the most comprehensive bibliography of Gabon available. It covers works in the natural sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences written in English and French. It also provides a wide range of short entries on major events and historical figures in Gabonese history.

  • Mianzenza, Aimé Dieudonné. Gabon: Alamanach des theses de doctorat de 1965 à 2012. Évry, France: Centre d’études stratégiques du bassin du Congo, 2013.

    E-mail Citation »

    This bibliography covers doctoral theses on Gabon, mainly in French. Given the difficulty of obtaining many of these dissertations, this is a good resource for researchers.

  • Mpenga, Annie, and Jacques Hubert. Culture Gabonaise: Annuaire des auteurs de 1950 à 2010. Libreville, Gabon: Fondation Raponda-Walker, 2010.

    E-mail Citation »

    This excellent bibliography of over one thousand works is one of the best lists of Gabonese authors available. Many of these references are only available in Gabon. It also includes theses from France and Gabon, which often are difficult to track down. It is organized alphabetically rather than thematically.

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