African Studies History and the Study of Africa
by
Jonathan Reynolds
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0095

Introduction

The land mass known as Africa and its inhabitants have a long, dynamic, and often contentious relationship with the writing of history. Nonetheless, it is the fluid and often acrimonious relationship between Africa and the field of history that allows the subject to offer a valuable insight into the changing nature of the practice of history itself and into the scholars, observers, and agents who have produced that history. For much of antiquity, most of Africa existed on the periphery of the writing of history, a region defined often by speculation rather than by observation. Then a strange thing happened. As new maritime technologies led to increased connections with and greater awareness of things and people African, rather than being brought into greater historical focus, Africa increasingly was pushed out of history altogether. Indeed, during the Early Modern and Enlightenment periods, unintentional marginalization shifted to active exclusion. This reality is crucial to our understanding of history and the study of Africa because it was during this period that the very concept of history as a modern field of study was being created. By 1900, Africa had become perhaps the most common “primitive” foil to Europe’s ascribed status as the source of progress and history. Thus, even as European colonialism established economic and political dominance over much of Africa by the early 20th century, so did historians of European birth or descent assert dominance over the continent’s history. The denial of African history, however, was to be temporary. Even during the 19th century, Africans and those of African descent were beginning to challenge the notion of an ahistorical Africa. By the middle of the 20th century, these early historians of Africa were joined by a group of area studies specialists known as Africanists who sought to pioneer and use innovative forms of research and evidence to prove that a very real and dynamic African history could be revealed and written. This process accelerated as the 20th century progressed, especially as increasing numbers of African-born historians not only drew upon Western methods of history to challenge European constructions of Africa but also found careers in Western universities to reform the field of history from within. Indeed, the very tools used to establish the reality of Africa’s place as part and parcel of the historical world also, by the late 20th century, changed the practice of history itself, altering the way historians everywhere research and understand the past. See also the separate Oxford Bibliographies articles on Image of Africa and Historiography and Methods of African History.

General Overviews

Despite the fact that Africa’s relationship to history provides such an excellent measure of the transformations of the field over time, there are relatively few overviews that place Africa in clear historiographical context. Curtin 1964 examines and challenges the construction of a particular image of Africa among the British. Du Bois 1979, Herskovits 1990, and Mudimbe 1988 offer broader critiques of how Africa has been represented in history and philosophy. Miller 1999 is perhaps the most historiographically detailed examination of changing attitudes toward Africa by historians, while Reynolds 2007 is a broader examination of the changing relationship between African history and world history. Phillips 2005 is largely methodological but also consistently addresses changing perspectives on Africa in history.

  • Curtin, Philip. The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Actions, 1780–1850. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1964.

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    A groundbreaking early study that examines the changing representation and meaning of Africa in British sources and policy during the latter 18th and early 19th centuries.

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    • Du Bois, W. E. B. The World and Africa: Being an Inquiry into the Part Which Africa Has Played in World History. Rev. ed. New York: International Publishers, 1979.

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      Originally published in 1947, this text presents the first text to specifically challenge Africa’s alleged isolation and irrelevance to understandings of world history. It builds upon and extends themes first presented by Du Bois in The Negro in 1915 (New York: Holt).

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      • Herskovits, Melville. The Myth of the Negro Past. Boston: Beacon, 1990.

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        Originally published in 1941, this work was one of the first Western anthropological studies to challenge the idea that Africans possessed no culturally significant history. Herskovits focuses on “spiritual” and linguistic developments, in particular, to argue for the complexity of African culture in the Americas and Africa alike.

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        • Miller, Joseph C. “Presidential Address: History and Africa/Africa and History.” American Historical Review 104.1 (1999): 1–32.

          DOI: 10.2307/2650179Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

          A brief yet historiographically dense overview of the relationship between the modern field of history and the study of Africa.

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          • Mudimbe, V. Y. The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.

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            An incisive intellectual history and assessment of the philosophical underpinnings of the creation of Western constructions of Africa and Africanness.

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            • Phillips, John Edward, ed. Writing African History. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2005.

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              Written as an intentional follow up to McCall 1969 (cited under Methodologies), this edited volume examines the writing of African history from a number of disciplinary and methodological perspectives.

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              • Reynolds, Jonathan T. “Africa and World History: From Antipathy to Synergy.” History Compass 5.6 (2007): 1998–2013.

                DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-0542.2007.00475.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                This article utilizes the changing status of Africa in world history scholarship to examine the transformation of our understanding of not only African history but also of the very nature of 20th century historical scholarship. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                Reference Works

                A number of general references are useful regarding African history as a subject. All, to some small degree, address Africa’s relationship to the writing of history. Fage and Oliver 1975–1986 and UNESCO 1981–1993 represent early attempt to provide a comprehensive survey of African history based upon Africanist perspectives, although UNESCO is notable for its effort to give voice to African-based scholars. Middleton and Miller 2008 offers extensive and contemporary information in an encyclopedic format that is helpful for secondary- and college-level researchers. Vogel 1997 is notable for its focus on ancient Africa, a period often not covered in significant detail in reference works.

                • Fage, John D., and Roland Oliver, eds. The Cambridge History of Africa. 8 vols. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1975–1986.

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                  One of the first attempts to synthesize the body of scholarship created by African Studies scholars up to the early 1980s. This collection is not quite as comprehensive as that of the UNESCO 1981–1993 and offers a somewhat less political perspective. Available online by subscription.

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                  • Middleton, John, and Joseph C. Miller, eds. New Encyclopedia of Africa. 5 vols. Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2008.

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                    Based on research from 2006 and earlier, this set provides valuable insight into the scope and nature of Africanist historical research up to the early 21st century.

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                    • UNESCO. General History of Africa. 8 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981–1993.

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                      Produced over the course of the 1980s and early 1990s, this multivolume set drew heavily on contributions by historians located in Africa. This collection is more detailed in its subject matter than that of Fage and Oliver 1975–1986, and the authors are often more willing to address highly politicized topics such as neo-colonialism and dependency theory.

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                      • Vogel, Joseph O., ed. Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa: Archaeology, History, Languages, Cultures and Environments. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 1997.

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                        An excellent resource highlighting the advances made in our understanding of ancient and precolonial Africa.

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                        Textbooks

                        Although not always considered serious scholarship, textbooks provide a particularly valuable insight into the core perspectives of different approaches to African history and also the relationship of these perspectives to the wider field of history. Notably, because African history was not being taught to a general audience until the mid-20th century, these textbooks only provide insight into the scholarship of the past few decades. Asante 2007 is significant in that it is an African history text written from an Afrocentric perspective. Austin 2010, Berger 2009, and Gilbert and Reynolds 2012 represent the new tendency to blur the line between area studies and world history frameworks of analysis, placing African content in more comparative global context. Brizuela-Garcia and Getz 2012 offers not only an introduction to the methodology of African history but also to its historiography. Iliffe 2007 presents a survey of African history that places environmental factors at the forefront. Oliver and Fage 1990 is significant in that it is the last edition of a pioneering text, which, over three decades, helped introduce thousands of students to the study of African history.

                        • Asante, Molefe Kente. The History of Africa: the Quest for Eternal Harmony. London: Routledge, 2007.

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                          One of the first textbooks written for a broad audience yet based upon Afrocentric perspectives of African history.

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                          • Austin, Ralph. Trans-Saharan Africa in World History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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                            This brief text is good example of the recent trend toward placing even regional African histories in the broader contest of world history.

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                            • Berger, Iris. South Africa in World History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                              This text is another good example of the recent trend toward placing even regional African histories in the broader contest of world history.

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                              • Brizuela-Garcia, Esperanza, and Trevor R. Getz. African Histories: New Sources and New Techniques for Studying African Pasts. Boston: Pearson, 2012.

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                                Although designed as a textbook to introduce African historical methodology to undergraduates, it also represents an excellent survey of the refinement of such techniques as linguistic analysis over the past several decades.

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                                • Gilbert, Erik, and Jonathan T. Reynolds. Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. 3d ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2012.

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                                  When first published in 2004, this text was the first comprehensive African history survey to engage the area studies construction of Africa by placing the continent in a comparative and connected world historical framework.

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                                  • Iliffe, John. Africans: The History of a Continent. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511800375Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                    Originally published in 1995, but updated with a new edition in 2007, this textbook is built around the theme of the human (African) colonization of what the author characterizes as an environmentally challenging African continent. Iliffe’s work is a good example of the growing influence of environmental context on African history.

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                                    • Oliver, Roland, and J. D. Fage. A Short History of Africa. 6th ed. London: Penguin, 1990.

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                                      First published in 1962, this work is the first attempt at a comprehensive African history textbook. A total of six editions were released. This text is a good example of early Africanist representations of Africa and Africans.

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                                      Journals

                                      A number of significant journals publish articles relating to African history. Several reflect the interdisciplinary nature of African history within the wider framework of African studies. Africana Studia is a relatively new journal that reflects the ongoing contribution of Lusophone scholarship to the study of Africa. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute was one of the first journals to focus on the study of African history and culture and shares with the African Studies Review and Cahiers d’Études africaines a strongly interdisciplinary approach to the study of the continent. History in Africa is notable for its emphasis on methodology. The International Journal of African Historical Studies and Journal of African History represent the most highly regarded historical journals in the field. The Journal of African-American History represents the most significant shift in attitudes toward Africa’s place in the writing of history, as its initial publication in 1916 created the first scholarly venue for the writing of African history.

                                      Africa in Premodern Works of History, Geography, and Culture

                                      While the field of history as we now understand it did not exist prior to the modern period, there were nonetheless scholars who dedicated much of their professional lives to recording information that was notable in its historical, geographical, cultural content. Many of these writers lived in the region around the Mediterranean and recorded information relating to Africa. Much of this material was gleaned from traders who traveled to or from Africa. Occasionally, these accounts included first-person experiences. In a time when such contacts were relatively rare, these often sketchy accounts were influential in disproportion to their degree of scope or accuracy. For centuries, many were accepted and reproduced as fact. Africanus 1896 is perhaps one of the most influential first-person sources made available to European audiences in the Early Modern period. Al-Idrisi, Ibn Battuta, and Ibn Khaldun are each examples of Islamic scholars whose works have been influential upon scholars in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East over a period of centuries (see Al-Idrisi 1928, Ibn Battuta 2004, and Ibn Khaldun 2005, respectively). Herodotus and Pliny, similarly, reflect the contribution of northern Mediterranean scholars to the slowly growing corpus of information about Africa (see Herodotus 1964 and Pliny the Elder 1938–1963, respectively). Hopkins and Levtzion 1981 and Koubbel and Matveev 1965–1990 provide translations of these and many similar early works.

                                      • Africanus, Leo. The History and Description of Africa, and of the Notable Things Therin Contained. 3 vols. Translated by John Pory and edited by Robert Brown. London: Bedford, 1896.

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                                        Originally published in Italian by the Venetian publisher Giovanni Battista Ramusio in 1550 as Della descrittione dell’Africa et delle cose notabili che iui sono, per Giovan Lioni Africano. Editions in French, Latin, and English followed in the next several decades.

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                                        • Al-Idrisi. Weltkarte des Idrisi vom Jahr 1154 n. Ch., Charta Rogeriana. Translated by Konrad Miller. Stuttgart: Miller, 1928.

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                                          Al-Idrisi is believed to have been a Moroccan scholar and cartographer who lived in the 12th century. Influenced both by Ptolemy as well as earlier Islamic scholars, this work, titled Nazhat al-mushtaq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq (The book of pleasant journeys into faraway lands) but more popularly known as the Tabula Rogeriana, was produced for the Norman monarch Roger of Sicily, and was a companion to a silver planisphere. Translated and printed in Rome in 1592, this text was a source for European scholars of the 16th and 17th centuries. A French translation, Description de l’Afrique et de l’Espagne par Edrisi, was published in 1866.

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                                          • Herodotus. The Histories. 2 vols. Translated by George Rawlinson and edited by E. H. Blakeney. London: Dent, 1964.

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                                            Originally written in the 5th century BCE, Herodotus’s writings on Africa served as information for European and Arabic scholars for nearly two thousand years. Even today the meaning of Herodotus’s content and insights are actively debated.

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                                            • Hopkins, J. F. P., and Nehmiah Levtzion, eds. Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West African History. Translated by J. F. P. Hopkins. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

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                                              This text represents an excellent collection of Arabic resources, highlighting the content and nature of information available to Arabic and often Christian scholars regarding African geography, populations, and institutions.

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                                              • Ibn Battuta. The Travels of Ibn Battuta: in the Near East, Asia and Africa, 1325–1354. Translated by Samuel Lee. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2004.

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                                                Originally titled Tuhfat al-nuzzar fi ghara’ib al-amsar wa-aja’ib al-asfar, but often simply referred to as Rihla or The Journey. This account includes Ibn Battuta’s extensive travels in western and eastern Africa and has been a significant resource for researchers for over five hundred years. Translated into French and Arabic by Charles Defrémery and Beniamino Sanguinetti between 1854 and 1858 as Voyages d’Ibn Batoutah. Translated into English by H. A. R. Gibb in 1929 as Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa (London: Broadway)

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                                                • Ibn Khaldun. The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History. Translated by Franz Rosenthal. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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                                                  Produced in the latter 14th century, Khaldun’s accounts of African geography and populations, particularly in North and West Africa, have been influential for both Islamic and Western scholars. A French translation was completed in three volumes by Etienne Marc Quatremere in 1858–1868.

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                                                  • Koubbel, L. E., and V. V. Matveev. Arabskie istochniki X-XII vekov. 4 vols. Moscow Institut ėtnografii, 1965–1990.

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                                                    An example of Soviet scholarship on Africa, these volumes present Arabic sources relating to ancient African history. The sources, many of which are unavailable elsewhere, are provided in Arabic and in Russian translation.

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                                                    • Pliny the Elder. Natural History. 10 vols. Translated by H. Rackham. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1938–1963.

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                                                      Authored in 77–79 CE, Pliny’s Naturalis Historia (Natural history) encyclopedia was published in print Venice in 1469 by Johann and Wendelin of Speyer. Numerous translations and editions followed in different languages. Pliny’s descriptions of North and West Africa did much to define European understandings of the continent well into the Age of Exploration.

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                                                      Africa in Enlightenment Era History and Science

                                                      It was during the period of the 18th and early 19th centuries that the rise of modern history, incubated in a period of great intellectual ferment, took place in Western Europe. The scholars of this period are to be lauded for laying the foundation of such crucial innovations as creating a version of history based upon the collection and analysis of surviving evidence. Yet, in relation to Africa they are almost universally guilty of failing to live up to their own standards of historical objectivity. In so doing, many of these writers laid the foundation for a model of history that excluded Africa and Africans (as well as other nonwhites) from history for nearly two centuries. Beattie 2013 is notable as an exception to this dynamic, offering a spirited challenge to the dismissal of Africans as irrational and ahistorical. Blumenbach 1969 is typical of the efforts of monogenists to explain how a single human creation could result in distinct races. Cuvier 2012 was influential in that in that author’s attempt to classify species of animals; Cuvier also classified humans into distinct species. De Gobineau 1998 and Hume 2008 reflect the increasing influence of racial categories on thought during the 18th and 19th centuries. Hegel 1980 is significant in that while the author is considered a father of modern history, he, too, was deeply influenced by early racial stereotypes.

                                                      • Beattie, James. An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth in Opposition to Sophistry and Skepticism. Stockbridge, MA: Hard Press, 2013.

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                                                        Beattie, an English writer and philosopher, is notable in that he was one of the few thinkers of his time to challenge ideas of racial hierarchy in general and the inherent inferiority of Africans in particular. His 1770 defense of African acquaintances as possessing intelligence and morality equivalent to that of Europeans is sadly unique for the era in question.

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                                                        • Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich. On the Natural Varieties of Mankind: De generis humani varietate nativa. Translated and edited by Thomas Bendyshe. New York: Bergman, 1969.

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                                                          This influential doctoral dissertation, originally published in 1775, is an excellent example of early European monogenist perspectives on race. Blumenbach divided humans into five races (including Ethiopian/black) and postulated that “degeneration” was the reason why some races no longer resembled the “original” human white population. Notably, Blumenbach rejected the idea that some races were inherently superior to others.

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                                                          • Cuvier, Georges Leopold. Animal Kingdom: Arranged in Conformity with Its Organization. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

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                                                            This 1797 work by Cuvier is perhaps most famous for his classification of animal species. However, his categorization of different human races was influential on later European thinkers. He classified humans into three races and argued that the relative beauty of each race reflected their propensity to civilized behaviors. Whites were deemed the most beautiful and civilized, and blacks, the least so.

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                                                            • De Gobineau, Arthur. The Inequality of Human Races. Translated by Adrian Collins New York: Fertig, 1998.

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                                                              In this mid-19th century publication, De Gobineau outlined an influential argument for the relative superiority of the white (specifically Aryan) race to all others. De Gobineau also identified “race mixing” as the cause for the downfall of great empires.

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                                                              • Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Lectures on the Philosophy of History. Translated by H. B. Nisbet. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

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                                                                Hegel is often identified as one of the “fathers” of the modern field of history. However, his extreme Eurocentrism and dismissive attitude toward the concept of African history is a theme that runs through these essays. Originally published in German during period from 1822–1828.

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                                                                • Hume, David. Selected Essays. Edited by Stephen Copley and Andrew Edgar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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                                                                  Hume was one of the Enlightenment’s most respected thinkers. However, in the essay “Of National Characters” (1748) he dismissed all non-Whites as being without any intellectual, cultural, or historic merit.

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                                                                  Africa and Evolutionary Thought

                                                                  The advent of evolutionary thought, beginning in the middle of the 19th century, had a number of substantial repercussions for the place of Africa and Africans in history. Darwin 2009 and Huxley 2009 both reflect early efforts to place humans into the framework of evolutionary change. Spencer 2009 is notably for applying these biological ideas to social and historical development. Wolpoff and Caspari 1997 offers a defense of the multiregional model of human evolution, in response to the growing challenge of the out of Africa model as voiced in Stringer and McKie 1998.

                                                                  • Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man. New York: Classic Books International, 2009.

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                                                                    In this 1871 follow-up to Origin of Species, published in 1859, Darwin argued countered the dominant polygenist belief of the era by arguing that humans belonged to a single species descended from a common set of ancestors. He did not, however, explicitly deny that some human groups might be more evolved than others. Text available online from Darwin Online and Project Gutenberg.

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                                                                    • Huxley, Thomas Henry. Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                                      Published four years after Darwin’s Origin of Species, Huxley was the first to argue specifically that humans shared close evolutionary linkages to apes and other primates.

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                                                                      • Spencer, Herbert. Principles of Biology. 3 vols. Cornell, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009.

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                                                                        Deeply influenced by Darwin’s idea of evolution, Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” and in this 1864–1867 publication applied the concept of natural selection not to biology but to societies. In so doing, he created the concept of social Darwinism.

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                                                                        • Stringer, Chris, and Robin McKie. African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

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                                                                          Stringer and McKie offer a summary of the new genetic, archaeological, and paleological evidence supporting the out-of-Africa model of human evolution. Stringer argues that all contemporary humans are descendants of modern humans who evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago.

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                                                                          • Wolpoff, Milford H. and Rachel Caspari. Race and Human Evolution: A Fatal Attraction. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997.

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                                                                            In this text, Wolpoff and Caspari offer a defense of the multiregional hypothesis of human evolution, arguing that current races can be traced back to the migration and dispersion of Homo Erectus populations out of Africa over one million years ago. The authors also argue that the political and social constructions of race have clouded our scientific analysis of the subject.

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                                                                            Early Universal and World Histories

                                                                            During the early 20th century, a number of Western historians sought to consolidate the historical knowledge accumulated to date in the form of universal histories. Far from being what we would today consider world history, these histories are in the main notable for their exclusion of black Africans (and other nonwhites) from the historical world. Most of these histories are organized under the rubric of what might be recognized as Western Civilization models of history. Wells 1922 and Toynbee 1934–1961 are notable in that while they do not embrace race as a factor in history; they nonetheless include no African content beyond that of ancient Egypt. Breasted 1926, however, specifically discounts the contribution of black Africans to history. Braudel 1995 offers insight into changing perspectives on Africa’s place in early world histories, by including a discussion, however brief, of “Black African” civilization.

                                                                            • Braudel, Fernand. A History of Civilization. Translated by Richard Mayne. London: Penguin, 1995.

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                                                                              Originally published in French as Grammaire des civilisations in 1963, this text was an early attempt to move beyond a Eurocentric understanding of world history. In so doing, Braudel includes a section on “Black African” civilization. Nonetheless, compared to his treatments of European and Islamic civilizations, his treatment of Africa is brief and reproduces the memes of African tradition and isolation.

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                                                                              • Breasted, James. The Conquest of Civilization. New York: Harper, 1926.

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                                                                                An early world history textbook, Breasted’s work is emblematic of a racialized Western civilization narrative that ascribed all historical process to whites. Breasted is also notable for his assertion that the ancient Egyptians were white.

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                                                                                • Toynbee, Arnold J. A Study of History. 12 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934–1961.

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                                                                                  The British historian Toynbee invested some three decades in authoring this twelve-volume history of the world, which is largely organized around the study of “civilizations.” Emblematic of the dominant historical perspective of the time, he does not consider Africa as having any such units of analysis. He does identify Egypt as worth of study, but he does not characterize “Egyptiac” civilization as African per se.

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                                                                                  • Wells, H. G. A Short History of the World. London: Cassell, 1922.

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                                                                                    Well’s short history from the beginning of the world to 1921 is novel in that he largely rejected notions of race and inherent European superiority. However, his exclusion of any African material beyond Egypt and North Africa is typical of the time.

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                                                                                    Early African and Africa-American Perspectives

                                                                                    While European and European-descended scholars were generally in agreement on the nature of world history by the turn of the 19th century, a growing number of African and African American scholars had already begun challenge this heavily racialized version of history. Some of the earliest challenges, such as that of Equiano 2006, came from survivors of the Atlantic slave trade, while others, such as Horton 1969 and Johnson 2001 came from among the Krio recaptives of Sierra Leone. Eghareuba 1991 represents an African adaptation of Western-style political histories, while the ethnography Kenyatta 1962 is a response to Western anthropological representations of Africa. Du Bois 2010 is seminal in that it is the first attempt at a comprehensive history of African and African diasporic populations. Woodson 1936 is a similar early African American take on African history.

                                                                                    • Du Bois, W. E. B. The Negro. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2010.

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                                                                                      This text is significant for a host of reasons, not the least of which being that it was the first (originally published in 1915) history of Africans (and African Americans) written for a broad audience. Further, it was one of the first histories to challenge the then-dominant historical perspective that people of color had no history.

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                                                                                      • Eghareuba, Jacomb U. A Short History of Benin. 4th ed. Ibadan, Nigeria: Ibadan University Press, 1991.

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                                                                                        This book, originally published in Benin in 1934, was based largely upon interviews with members court members from the state of Benin, outlines the history of this West African state from the 12th century onward. Eghareuba wrote the book after he became aware of the nature of European historical writing.

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                                                                                        • Equiano, Olaudah. Equiano’s Travels: The Interesting Narratives of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vasa the African. Edited by Paul Edward. Long Grove, IL: Waveland, 2006.

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                                                                                          Originally published in 1789 and presenting an account of enslavement in the Bight of Biafra and being sold into the Atlantic world, Equiano’s autobiography is one of the most influential first-person accounts of the transatlantic slave trade. It was significant in the abolitionist movement and has remained so as a primary account of the trade in more modern scholarship.

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                                                                                          • Horton, James A. B. West African Countries and People. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1969.

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                                                                                            Originally published in 1868, this volume was written by an Igbo “recaptive” in Sierra Leone who had trained as a medical doctor. The book seeks to refute a number of racist characterizations of Africans and justifications for colonialism.

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                                                                                            • Johnson, Samuel. The History of the Yorubas From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate. Edited by O. Johnson. London: Cass, 2001.

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                                                                                              Johnson was a “recaptive” from southwestern Nigeria who became an Anglican priest. He wrote this text to prevent a loss of knowledge about Yoruba history following the colonization of the region. The unpublished manuscript was later edited and published by his brother in 1921.

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                                                                                              • Kenyatta, Jomo. Facing Mt. Kenya: The Tribal Life of the Gikuyu. London: Vintage, 1962.

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                                                                                                An ethnography written by the later first president of Kenya, this text was influential for its argument that the life of “tribal” peoples was neither chaotic nor simple. First published in 1938.

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                                                                                                • Woodson, Carter G. The African Background Outlined, or, the Handbook for the Study of the Negro. Washington, DC: Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, 1936.

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                                                                                                  Often hailed as the father of black history, Woodson was the founder of the Journal of Negro History. Although he had written many books on black history prior to this volume, this book was the first to provide an overview of African history.

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                                                                                                  Afrocentrism

                                                                                                  Building upon the work of earlier African American scholars but also posing a challenge to the perceived Euro-centrism of African studies, Afrocentrism has grown and remained an influential perspective on African history. Asante 1998 is a succinct presentation of many core Afrocentric perspectives. Bernal 1991 offers a historiographical and linguistic analysis of the influence of Egypt on Ancient Greece. Diop 1955 and Diop 1990 are highly influential works arguing for the “blackness” of the Ancient Egyptians and their wider influence on African and European history. James 1954 argues that the roots of Greek humanism are actually “stolen” from ancient Egyptian philosophy. Van Sertima 1976 presents a popular Afrocentric argument that ancient African seafarers established contact with American populations in antiquity. Williams 1987 provides insight into a more nationalist Afrocentric perspective that characterizes intellectual and cultural elements from outside of black Africa as destructive.

                                                                                                  • Asante, Molefe. The Afrocentric Idea. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                    Originally published in 1988, this text presents a manifesto for understanding Africans and their history on their own terms, not in light of external perspectives or standards. It has been particularly influential in African American, Africana, and black studies programs and scholarship.

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                                                                                                    • Bernal, Martin. Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Vol. 1, The Fabrication of Ancient Greece, 1875–1895. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                      While not hailing from an Afrocentric background, Bernal’s argument that classical Greece was both directly and indirectly influenced by Egyptian culture and ideas has been embraced by many Afrocentric thinkers. In particular, Bernal argues that the idea of the independent Greek innovation of science and philosophy is itself a modern, rather than ancient, perspective.

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                                                                                                      • Diop, Cheik Anta. Nations nègres et culture. Paris: Presence Africaine, 1955.

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                                                                                                        Based largely upon his doctoral dissertation, Diop’s first book represents a significant watershed in the writing of the history of Africa. In this text and others that followed (Diop 1990), Diop argues that the ancient Egyptians were black (contrary to the then dominant perspective that they had to have been white) and that all of Africa shared a common cultural core, which itself was rooted in ancient Egypt.

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                                                                                                        • Diop, Cheik Anta. The African Origins of Civilizations: Myths or Reality? Edited by Mercer Cook. New York: Hill, 1990.

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                                                                                                          Another crucial book in which Diop expands upon his examination of the historical treatment of ancient Egypt and argues that the ancient Egyptians were of “Negro” rather than “Caucasian” race.

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                                                                                                          • James, George G. M. Stolen Legacy: The Egyptian Origins of Western Philosophy. New York, Philosophical Library, 1954.

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                                                                                                            A controversial but influential book that argues that much of what is considered Greek philosophy and science is actually rooted in ancient Egyptian thought.

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                                                                                                            • Van Sertima, Ivan. They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America. Random House, 1976.

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                                                                                                              Van Sertima argues for long-standing and extensive transatlantic connections between first ancient Egypt and later continuing with the Mali Empire. The text is controversial but nonetheless widely influential study, particularly within African American, black, and Africana studies programs.

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                                                                                                              • Williams, Chancellor. The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race Between 4500 BC and 2000 AD 3d ed. Chicago: Third World, 1987.

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                                                                                                                William’s text is a particularly influential example of what might be considered a “nationalist” perspective within Afrocentrism. Williams elides blackness and Africaness and treats all political, cultural, and intellectual elements from outside Africa as forces of disunity and decay. First published in 1971.

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                                                                                                                Area Studies Perspectives

                                                                                                                The early 20th century saw a growing challenge to the idea that regions not dominated by or in contact with Europeans had no history. First elaborated by the Latin American studies movement, this challenge grew to include the field of African studies by the 1950s. Africanists become notable not only for their place within the wider area studies movement but also for their interdisciplinarity and the innovation of methodologies for the reconstruction of history in the absence of extensive written documentation. Area studies perspectives continue to dominate the production of knowledge regarding African history in the early 21st century. Notably, many of the methodologies pioneered by African historians have come to be applied to deepen our understanding of even those regions and eras with significant written traditions.

                                                                                                                Historiography

                                                                                                                Although a young field, African history has begun to produce significant works charting the innovations and transformations that have allowed the field to develop and expand over the past several decades. These studies both laud the innovations of African historians and also critique the often complicated politics that have defined a field spread across continents and comprising diverse methodologies, perspectives, and populations. See also the separate Oxford Bibliographies article on Historiography and Methods of African History. Brett 2013 provides both a survey of African history and a critique of significant contributions to the field. Derricourt 2011 examines the role of scholarship in creating popular and academic notions of African history. Falola 1993 offers a festschrift for Jacob Ade Ajayi and the Ibadan school of history. Fyfe 1976 pursues a similar goal in a set of essays in honor of Basil Davidson. Jewsiewicki and Newbury 1986 examines not only the contributions but also the complex politics behind the creation of African history. Ranger 1968 presents an early insight into the developing field.

                                                                                                                • Brett, Michael. Approaching African History. Woodbridge, UK: Currey, 2013.

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                                                                                                                  In this novel undertaking, Brett provides both a survey of African history from antiquity to the present and a survey (albeit selective) of the development of the field of African history itself.

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                                                                                                                  • Derricourt, Robin M. Inventing Africa: History, Archaeology, and Ideas. London: Pluto, 2011.

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                                                                                                                    A brief yet thoughtful text that provides an examination of the various academic constructions of Africa and the impact of these diverse versions of African history on both popular and academic understandings of the continent.

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                                                                                                                    • Falola, Toyin, ed. African Historiography: Essays in Honour of Jacob Ade Ajayi. Harlow, UK: Longman, 1993.

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                                                                                                                      A Festschrift not only for Ajayi but also a tribute to the Ibadan School of African History, this volume examines such issues as the use of oral sources and the dynamics of West African history.

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                                                                                                                      • Fyfe, Christopher, ed. African Studies since 1945: A Tribute to Basil Davidson. London: Longman, 1976.

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                                                                                                                        A collection of chapters drawn from a seminar in honor of Davidson. Contributions include examinations of the progress made in a variety of methodological and regional perspectives on African history.

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                                                                                                                        • Jewsiewicki, Boghumi, and David Newbury, eds. African Historiographies: What History for Which Africa? Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE, 1986.

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                                                                                                                          A thoughtful critique of the ongoing Western influence on the writing of African history. The authors investigate not only the ongoing influence of Western trained scholars but also the growing influence of African-born and based scholars in the representation of the African past.

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                                                                                                                          • Ranger, Terrance O., ed. Emerging Themes of African History: Proceedings of the International Conference of African Historians. London: Heinemann, 1968.

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                                                                                                                            Featuring contributions by some of the most influential early thinkers of African history, this edited volume presents a window into the state of the field in the mid-1960s.

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                                                                                                                            Foundational Works of African History

                                                                                                                            During the middle decades of the 20th century, the birth of the field of African studies saw the publication of a number of foundational works that focused on establishing the broad outlines of African history and making a case for development of new techniques of historical research that could be used to expand and add depth that history. Davidson 1959 and Davidson 1972 are examples of this influential author’s efforts to bring a more complex and textured perspective on African history to a wider audience. Fage 1970 was written for a similar purpose. Frobenius 1933 is an example of an early anthropological perspective that ran counter to popular Western notions of African cultural simplicity. Greenberg 1963 represents a seminal classification of African language families. Ki-Zerbo 1963 are two significant examples of early surveys of African history produced on the continent. Suret-Canale 1958–1972 signify early Francophone efforts to produce a comprehensive African history.

                                                                                                                            • Davidson, Basil. The Lost Cities of Africa. Boston: Little, Brown, 1959.

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                                                                                                                              An early popular effort to highlight the extent of Africa’s urban history.

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                                                                                                                              • Davidson, Basil. Africa: History of a Continent. New York: Macmillan, 1972.

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                                                                                                                                Originally published in 1962, this book is an early effort to produce a comprehensive African history for a popular Western audience.

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                                                                                                                                • Fage, John D., ed. Africa Discovers Her Past. London: Oxford University Press, 1970.

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                                                                                                                                  Based upon a series of BBC radio broadcasts from 1967, this text was aimed at a popular Western audience. The texts focus included the role of nonwritten sources in reconstructing African history.

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                                                                                                                                  • Frobenius, Leo. Kulturgeschichte Afrikas: Prolegomena zu einer historischen Gestaltlehre. Zurich, Germany: Phaidon-Verlag, 1933.

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                                                                                                                                    This text by the German ethnographer and archaeologist Frobenius made a case for the complexity of African cultures and artistic history. A French translation was also published. Frobenius was later cited by Leopold Senghor as an inspiration to African nationalists.

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                                                                                                                                    • Greenberg, Joseph H. The Languages of Africa. The Hague: Mouton, 1963.

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                                                                                                                                      In this significant text, Greenberg lays out a broad analysis and system of classification for African languages. This work helped establish the utility of linguistic analysis for analyzing African historical relationships.

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                                                                                                                                      • Ki-Zerbo, Joseph. Le Monde africain noir: Histoire et civilisation. Paris: Hatier, 1963.

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                                                                                                                                        Along with Ki-Zerbo’s Histoire de l’Afrique noire (Paris: Hatier, 1972), this work represents an early overview of African history produced by an African-born scholar.

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                                                                                                                                        • Suret-Canale, Jean. Afrique noire, occidentale et centrale. 3 vols. Paris: Editions Sociales, 1958–1972.

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                                                                                                                                          This work is an example of the early contributions to African history by French historians. The text also shows the important influence of Marxist frameworks of analysis on early studies of Africa.

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                                                                                                                                          Methodologies

                                                                                                                                          Since the early days of the development of African studies, scholars of Africa have developed innovative strategies for reconstructing African history despite the common shortage of the sorts of documents that Western historians had come to consider essential to the study of history. Vansina 1985 represents a significant revisiting of the author’s work on the same subject some two decades before. McCall 1969 is an excellent overview of the methodological state of the discipline at the end of the 1960s. Miller 1980 presents another time window into the development of the discipline. White, et al. 2001 is an example of more contemporary perspectives on methods, as is Falola and Jennings 2003. Bates, et al. 1993 examines the influence of new African studies methodologies on other disciplines. Vansina 1995 is a brief examination of the relationship between archaeological and historical inquiry. See also the separate Oxford Bibliographies article on Historiography and Methods of African History.

                                                                                                                                          • Bates, Robert H., V. Y. Mudimbe, and Jean O’Barr, eds. Africa and the Disciplines: The Contributions of Research in Africa to the Social Sciences and Humanities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                            An edited volume that examines the contributions that African studies perspectives have made to the study of other parts of the world and wider respective fields.

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                                                                                                                                            • Falola, Toyin, and Christopher Jennings, eds. Sources and Methodologies in African History: Spoken, Written, Unearthed. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                              An excellent examination of the development and refinement of a variety of techniques for reconstructing African history. This work is a good overview of African history’s contributions to the notion of the “usable past.”

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                                                                                                                                              • McCall, Daniel F. Africa in Time-Perspective: A Discussion of Historical Reconstruction from Unwritten Sources. London: Oxford University Press, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                                One of the first texts to examine explicitly the challenge of reconstructing African history using interdisciplinary sources.

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                                                                                                                                                • Miller, Joseph C., ed. The African Past Speaks: Essays on Oral Tradition and History. Hamden, CT: Archon, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                  Drawing on case studies of research largely in eastern and central Africa, this collection of essays provides a thoughtful analysis of the potentials and pitfalls for using oral sources to reconstruct the history of different settings and societies.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Vansina, Jan. Oral Tradition as History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                    This text represents a significant revisitation of Vansina’s early work, De la tradition orale, essai de méthode historique (originally published in 1961), which was a seminal analysis of the role of oral sources in the reconstruction of African history.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Vansina, Jan. “Historians, Are Archeologists Your Siblings?” History in Africa 22 (1995): 369–408.

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                                                                                                                                                      A thoughtful examination of the advantages of crossing disciplinary lines in order to more effectively reconstruct the African past. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                      • White, Luise S., Stephan F. Miescher, and David William Cohen, eds. African Words, African Voices: Critical Practices in Oral History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                        This edited text presents case studies by historians of and from many African locations to make a case for the ability of oral historical techniques to give voice to peoples silenced by earlier historical methods.

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                                                                                                                                                        Ancient Africa

                                                                                                                                                        The reconstruction of ancient and premodern African history deserves special merit, as the focus on ancient societies highlights the fallacy of the exclusion of Africa from the historical world. Connah 2001 and Ehret and Posnansky 1982 highlight the utility of archaeology and also linguistics in reconstructing the ancient African past. Hull 1976 focuses on the deep urban history of Africa, and Garlake 1973 is notable for its challenge of the once-dominant idea that Africans were incapable of constructing significant edifices. McIntosh 1999 uses archaeological methods to argue for Africa’s long history of political complexity. Schmidt 1997 highlights the use of ethnoarchaeology to tell the history of African metallurgy. Shaw, et al. 1993 surveys the breadth of information that can be revealed through archaeological analysis.

                                                                                                                                                        • Connah, Graham. African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                          Written to counter directly the perspective that Africans have long lived in only small local communities, this text draws upon extensive archaeological data to highlight the scope of Africa’s extensive urban and political history.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Ehret, Christopher, and Merrick Posnansky, eds. The Archaeological and Linguistic Reconstruction of African History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                            This text examines the utility of and correlation between archaeological and linguistic sources for the study and reconstruction of ancient African history.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Garlake, Peter S. Great Zimbabwe. London: Thames and Hudson, 1973.

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                                                                                                                                                              Garlake was the first white Rhodesian archaeologist to contradict the Rhodesian government sanctioned position that the structures of “Great Zimbabwe” had been built by non-Africans. This contradiction was a critical turning point in the archaeological history of the region.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Hull, Richard W. African Cities and Towns before the European Conquest. New York: Norton, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                Hull’s text represents an early example of a book refuting the notion in Eurocentric scholarship that Africa lacked significant urbanization prior to the colonial era.

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                                                                                                                                                                • McIntosh, Susan Keech, ed. Beyond Chiefdoms: Pathways to Complexity in Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                  This edited text draws upon archaeological, historical, and linguistic sources to argue that many African societies developed complex and state-level systems of hierarchy in antiquity.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Schmidt, Peter R. Iron Technology in East Africa: Symbolism, Science, and Archaeology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Schmidt’s text is an important work focusing on the utility of both archaeology and ethnographic research in uncovering the history of African metallurgy.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Shaw, Thurston, Paul Sinclair, Bassey Andah, and Alex Okpoko, eds. The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals, and Towns. Florence: Routledge, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                      This edited volume is an excellent example of archaeology being used to address the “grand narratives” of food production, metal working technology, and urbanization in African history.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Africa and Abrahamic Religions

                                                                                                                                                                      One of the most significant grand narratives of African history has been the role played by Africans in encountering, embracing, and influencing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Isrichei 1995 provides a broad survey of the history of Christianity in Africa. Jenkins 2008 does not focus simply on Africa but places African Christianity in the context of the ancient Church outside of Europe. Oden 2007 argues for the significant influence of early African converts and thinkers in defining the nature of Christianity. Elphick and Davenport 1997 highlights the complexity and importance of Christianity in southern Africa, particularly in the 20th century. Cooper 2006 examines the influence of a small number of Christian converts in the predominantly Muslim Nigerien Sahel. Regarding Islam, Lewis 1980 and Montiel 1980 provide insight into early efforts to understand African Islam in relation to the wider Dar al-Islam. Robinson 2004 offers an excellent overview of scholarship on Islam in Africa. Quiren 1992 is an example of the efforts to examine the history of Judaism in the Horn of Africa. See also the separate Oxford Bibliographies article on African Christianity.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Cooper, Barbara. Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Focusing on the work and influence of the Sudan Interior Mission in the West African Sahel, this award-winning book provides valuable insight not only into the development of Christianity in this region, but also the 20th century tensions between globalized Islam and Christianity in Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Elphick, Richard, and Rodney Davenport, eds. Christianity in South Africa: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Seeking to address the relative dearth of scholarship on Christianity in South Africa, this work focuses on the complex role of the faith, particularly in contestations over spiritual and political sovereignty.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Isrichei, Elisabeth. A History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                            A pathbreaking survey, this text presents a comprehensive overview of the role of Christianity in African history. Important in countering the idea that Christianity was somehow a “foreign” religion to Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Jenkins, John Philip. The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia —and How It Died. New York: HarperOne, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                              The fact that this text examines the role of Africa in the wider global history of Christianity is a significant sign of the changing perspective on Africa in more general scholarship on Christianity.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Lewis, I. M., ed. Islam in Tropical Africa. 2d ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Originally published in 1964. Drawing on contributions by regional specialists, this volume was among the first to present an overview of the role of Islam in African history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Montiel, Vincent. L’Islam noir: Une religion à la conquête de l’Afrique. Paris: Seuil, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  An early overview of Islam in Africa. This text is notable for its argument that Islam in Africa was distinct from Islam elsewhere in the world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Oden, Thomas C. How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity. Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Written by an American United Methodist theologian, this book highlights the degree to which even non-Africanists have begun to rethink Africa’s place in global Christian history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Quiren, James. The Evolution of the Ethiopian Jews: A History of the Beta Israel to 1920. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Drawing heavily on Ethiopian documentation, Quiren examines not only the controversial origins of Ethiopian Judaism but also the struggle of Jewish communities in the region to maintain their identity in the face of a state-sponsored Ethiopian Christianity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Robinson, David. Muslim Societies in African History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511811746Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        While aimed at undergraduate audiences, this text nonetheless provides excellent insights into the development of academic perspectives on African Islam by the early 21st century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Slavery in Africa

                                                                                                                                                                                        In no small part because of the significance of the Atlantic slave trade in African history, a significant amount of scholarship is dedicated to examining the impact of this trade in Africa. Further, considerable effort has been made to reconstruct the nature of African slavery prior to the rise of the Atlantic trade. Lovejoy 2011 provides a broad perspective on the topic of African slavery and argues for the transformation of African slavery as a result of the Atlantic trade. Inikori 1982 similarly argues for the influence of the Atlantic trade on the institution of slavery in Africa. Meillassoux 1975 is a significant work that highlights the role of anthropological research in examining the history of slavery in Africa. Meirs and Kopytoff 1977 also seeks to provide a broad overview of the practice of slavery in Africa. Miller 1988 focuses on the region of Angola to provide a case study of the African component of the Atlantic trade as Nwokeji 2010 does for the Bight of Biafra. Diouf 2003 provides an excellent insight into the strategies used by diverse African communities to resist enslavement and the slave trade.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Diouf, Sylvia, ed. Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          An important edited volume, this text helps shed light on the variety of techniques used by African populations to resist the both the threat of enslavement and the social and political dislocation that the trade engendered.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Inikori, Joseph E., ed. Forced Migrations: The Impact of the Export Slave Trade on African Societies. London: Hutchinson, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            This edited volume takes as its focus the economic, political, and social cost of the Atlantic slave trade among African communities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lovejoy, Paul. Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa. 3d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139014946Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              A seminal text, originally published in 1983, which argues that the Atlantic slave trade and even Atlantic abolition resulted in changes in the practice of slavery in Africa itself. More recent editions have incorporated additional statistical and demographic data into the original analysis.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Meillassoux, Claude. L’esclavage en Afrique precoloniale. Paris: Francois Maspero, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                While a work of Marxist anthropology, Meillassoux’s text offers valuable information regarding the practice of slavery in Africa prior to European colonialism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Meirs, Suzanne, and Igor Kopytoff, eds. Slavery in Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  An early comprehensive overview of scholarship relating to the practice of slavery in Africa. Also an excellent example of the interdisciplinary nature of Africanist research.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Miller, Joseph C. Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730–1830. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    An award-winning study of the slave trade out of west central Africa and examining the role of the south Atlantic slave trade in fostering the rise of early merchant capitalism. In the process, however, Miller also humanizes the trade by highlighting the struggle of those people who were enslaved in the process of the trade.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Nwokeji, G. Ugo. The Slave Trade and Culture in the Bight of Biafra: An African Society in the Atlantic World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511781384Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      An excellent example of the increasingly detailed research being undertaken to examine the links between Atlantic demand and the process of enslavement and slave trading in Africa. Nwokeji’s text focuses on a case study of the Bight of Biafra to examine how culture and not just economics played a key role in the trajectory of the trade in Africa and beyond.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Africa and the Atlantic World

                                                                                                                                                                                                      A substantial body of scholarship has been created by African historians regarding the transatlantic slave trade. This work engages significant questions including the scope of the trade, its legacy in the Americas, and its impact on African culture and development. Curtin 1969 is a significant work in that it was the first attempt to examine the trajectory and scope of the slave trade out of Africa and into the Atlantic. Falola and Roberts 2008 provides an African perspective on the development of the Atlantic world. Thornton 1998, Thornton 2012, and Heywood and Thornton 2007 highlight African agency and influence in the creation of the Atlantic world. Matory 2005 and Zachernuk 2000 offer insight into Africa’s participation in the creation of an intellectual Atlantic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Curtin, Philip. The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        An historic text, this 1969 study was the first comprehensive analysis of the number of enslaved Africans brought to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade. Scholars have debated the exact number since, but it was this work that established the first widely accepted ballpark figures.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Falola, Toyin, and Kevin Roberts, eds. The Atlantic World: 1450–2000. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          A collection of essays drawing together a number of new perspectives on the interconnected nature of the Atlantic world. A good example of how quickly this particular perspective on Africa’s place in the (Atlantic) world has changed in recent years.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Heywood, Linda M., and John K. Thornton. Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundation of the Americas, 1585–1660. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            In this detailed examination of the foundation of the Atlantic world, Heywood and Thornton focus on the role of enslaved Creole communities from central Africa in the making of Dutch and English colonies in the Americas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Matory, J. Lorand. Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Condomble. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Utilizing a case study of the African impact on religion in the Atlantic Basin, this text argues that far from being a mere “survival” of African culture in the Americas, African religion in the Atlantic was the result of ongoing communication and exchange between communities in Africa and elsewhere around the Atlantic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511800276Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thornton challenges the characterization of Africans as powerless victims of powerful European forces. Rather, he argues that many Africans played an active (although not necessarily positive) role in shaping the development of Atlantic slavery while those who were enslaved played an active part in creating the culture of the Americas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Thornton, John. A Cultural History of the Atlantic World, 1250–1820. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139021722Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An excellent exploration of the complex cultural, economic, and political linkages that led to the creation of the Atlantic world and a prime example of the growing engagement of African Historians with larger frameworks of historical analysis.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Zachernuk, Philip S. Colonial Subjects: An African Intelligentsia and Atlantic Ideas. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Focusing in southern Nigerian elites during the early 20th century, Zachernuk creates a textured and complex analysis of how Western-educated Nigerians formed and occupied an intellectual middle ground that located them not simply in a Nigerian, African, or “Westernized” space but within a more complicated Atlantic framework.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Africa and the Indian Ocean World

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Africa’s Horn and East Coast, quite in contrast to the once common notion of African isolation, have long existed within a wider system of exchange and interaction facilitated by the Indian Ocean. As such, historians of East Africa have often examined the question of the degree and influence of East Africa’s dual status as a component of both African and Indian Ocean worlds. Chaudhuri 1985 represents an early examination of East Africa’s economic links to the wider Indian Ocean. Nurse and Spear 1985 utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to examine the development of Swahili culture, arguing for its African roots that coexist with broad connections to other Indian Ocean regions. Cooper 1980 focuses on the role of slavery and colonialism in defining the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya and Tanzania. Horton 1996 draws heavily upon archaeological sources to highlight the economic and spiritual connections of a single town to the wider Indian Ocean. Larson 2009 examines the Malagasy diaspora across the Indian Ocean. Alpers 2009 provides an excellent contemporary overview of the economic, cultural, and political connections between East Africa and the wider Indian Ocean. Sheriff 2010 examines the role of maritime connections in the creation of a cosmopolitan Indian Ocean. Pearson 1998 provides a fascinating insight into the growing connections between the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds in the early modern period. See also the separate Oxford Bibliographies articles on Indian Ocean and Middle Eastern Slave Trade, Indian Ocean Trade, and Swahili City States of the East African Coast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Alpers, Edward A. East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This text places eastern Africa in the wider context of the Indian Ocean world, examining economic, cultural, and political connections with the Arabian peninsula, Persian Gulf, and South Asia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Chaudhuri, K. N. Trade and Civilization in the Indian Ocean: An Economic History From the Rise of Islam to 1750. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        While not a history of Africa per se, this economic analysis of the Indian Ocean trade is a good example of how the Global Systems methodologies encouraged historians to examine wider systems of interaction between regions otherwise separated by “Area Studies” boundaries.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Cooper, Frederick. From Slaves to Squatters: Plantation Labor and Agriculture in Zanzibar and Coastal Kenya, 1890–1925. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Now considered a classic of African history scholarship, this study examines the period of transition from slave-based agriculture to free labor in East Africa. In particular, Cooper focuses on the efforts of Arab and Swahili landlords, British colonizers, and the agricultural laborers themselves to define the relations of production and control the benefits of local production.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Horton, Mark. Shanga: The Archaeology of a Muslim Trading Community on the Coast of East Africa. London: British Institute in Eastern Africa, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This book provides detailed insights into the founding and development of the Swahili town of Shanga, located in the Lamu archipelago. Via an analysis of material, faunal, and floral remains, Horton argues that the settlement was essentially African in origin but incorporated numerous cultural and material elements from elsewhere in the Indian Ocean.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Larson, Pier M. Ocean of Letters: Language and Creolization in an Indian Ocean Diaspora. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Focusing on correspondence between members of the Malagasy diaspora in the Indian Ocean, Larson examines the connections forged by trade, imperialism, slavery, and missions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nurse, Derek, and Thomas T. Spear. The Swahili: Reconstructing the History and Language of an African Society, 800–1500. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Drawing heavily on unwritten sources, Nurse and Spear work not only to reconstruct the origins and development of Swahili society and culture but also to address the once dominant idea that the Swahili were not so much Arab transplants as they were a complex synthesis of Indian Ocean identities rooted in an East African context.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Pearson, Michael. Port Cities and Intruders: The Swahili Coast, India, and Portugal in the Early Modern Era. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In this highly regarded text, Pearson, originally a scholar of Southeast Asia, examines the collision of the Indian Ocean and Atlantic trading worlds.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Sheriff, Abdul. Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce, and Islam. London: Hurst, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sheriff’s work examines the development of the Dhow culture that connected the various land masses surrounding the Indian Ocean. He argues that the society created was characterized by peaceful commerce and coexistence between diverse populations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Political and Intellectual Histories

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Great energy has been invested by African political historians to reconstruct the history of African states and the African experience with colonialism. Similarly, no small amount of research has been dedicated to the study of African ideas, identities, and the very representation of the African past. Appiah 1992 engages the complexity of African identity, both as an individual and as it is understood by scholars. Boahen 1987 offers a significant insight into the African experience of colonization. Feierman 1990 is a thoughtful examination of political and intellectual currents among Tanzanian peasants and highlights how Africanist scholarship often blurs the division between history and anthropology. Hobsawm and Ranger 2012 is a significant text that critiques the use of tradition as a historical and anthropological framework. Similarly, Vail 1989 questions the historicity of tribal identities in South Africa, arguing rather that these identities were recent constructions. In a more specific study, Peel 2000 argues for the influence of Christianity in creating a broader Yoruba consciousness. Wilks 1975 is an early example of the effort to reconstruct African political histories. Vansina 1990 draws heavily on linguistic sources to establish a political history of central Africa dating back over thousands of years. See also the separate Oxford Bibliographies article on Invention of Tradition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Appiah, Anthony Kwame. In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An insightful discussion of the quest to offer an African voice within the multiplicity of African identities—within Africa and without. In the process, Appiah offers a critique of both the exuberance and challenges of Africa since independence.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Boahen, A. Adu. African Perspectives on Colonialism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This highly-regarded text was one of the first to evaluate the era of the “scramble for Africa” largely through African experiences and perspectives.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Feierman, Steven M. Peasant Intellectuals: Anthropology and History in Tanzania. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In this fascinating contribution to both African and wider intellectual histories, this text utilizes interviews collected across three decades to reconstruct and provide insights into the political discourses constructed and debated among Tanzanian peasants.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hobsawm, Eric J., and Terence O. Ranger. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This significant work, originally published in 1983, analyzes a number of examples of tradition in different regions of the world, pointing out that many practices assumed to be ancient are actually rather recent innovations. The juxtaposition of African and European examples helped to encourage many authors to critically access the use of “tradition” as a historical or anthropological framework.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Peel, J. D. Y. Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In this text, Peel critically examines the creation of Yoruba identity in the context of religious change and wider contacts across the Atlantic World. This work also highlights a growing degree of historical sensibility among anthropologists focusing on Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Vail, Leroy, ed. The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A significant volume examining the recent ethnogenesis of “tribal” identities in Southern Africa. This analysis helped to foster a higher level of critique of the idea of tribes as ancient and fixed entities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Vansina, Jan. Paths in the Rain Forests: Towards a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Widely regarded as a tour-de-force of African historical scholarship, this text draws upon oral and linguistic sources to reconstruct several thousand years of central African history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Wilks, Ivor. Asante in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A textured examination of the political history of an important West African state during the critical era running from the end of the Atlantic slave trade to the advent of colonialism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Women in Africa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Like African history, women’s history was once considered not to exist. Over the past several decades, however, there has been significant synergy in the development of the two fields. Studies of African women in history have served to enrich our understanding of the economic, political, and cultural roles played by women across time and space. Vincent 1966 highlights the early quest to understand women’s role in African urbanization during colonialism as does White 1990, that focuses on an examination of women in colonial Nairobi. Robertson and Klein 1997 focuses on the influence of slavery on women’s history in Africa. Getz and Clark 2012 undertakes a similar examination of slavery and gender but do so through the novel lens of a graphic history. Hafkin and Bay 1976 represents an early effort to establish a broad understanding of women’s agency in African history. Berger and White 1999 expands this focus to help provide comparative context to the understanding of African women’s history since antiquity. Bay 1998 and Achebe 2011 adds complexity to the analysis of women by placing that history in the wider context of women’s contestation of political gender roles. Masquelier 2009 provides insight into women’s roles in defining and contesting Islamic belief in contemporary Niger. See also the separate Oxford Bibliographies articles on Women and African History and Women and Colonialism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Achebe, Nwando. The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebe Ugbabe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A striking example of the power of the insider-scholar. Achebe uses the biography of a female warrant chief and king in southeastern Nigeria during the early 20th century to shed light on diverse themes of culture, gender, politics, and history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Bay, Edna G. Wives of the Leopard: Gender, Politics, and Culture in the Kingdom of Dahomey. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This notable text operates on a variety of levels. Historiographically, it serves to counter the 19th- and early-20th-century European image of Dahomey that sensationalized the state’s female combatants and the practice of human sacrifice. A textured examination of gender, class, and power in a West African state prior to colonial conquest.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Berger, Iris, and E. Frances White. Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: Restoring Women to History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Part of the globally focused Restoring Women to History series, this volume presents an overview of the broad themes and issues relating to African women from antiquity to the present.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Getz, Trevor R., and Liz Clark. Abina and the Important Men. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A pathbreaking graphic history that examines crucial issues of historical silence, slavery, sovereignty, gender, and colonialism in the Gold Coast during the 1870s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Hafkin, Nancy J., and Edna G. Bay, eds. Women in Africa: Studies in Social and Economic Change. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A good example of how a growing depth of Africanist scholarship facilitated the writing of synthetic overviews of African women’s history by the 1970s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Masquelier, Adeline. Women and Islamic Revival in a West African Town. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Focusing on a local debate in Dogondoutchi, Niger, over the meaning of Islam as it relates to women’s roles and rights, this text provides outstanding insight into women’s influence on Islam, and vice versa, in West Africa during the latter 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Robertson, Claire C., and Martin A. Klein, eds. Women and Slavery in Africa. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An important edited volume focusing on the impact of slavery on women’s lives in African history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Vincent, Jeanne-Françoise. Femmes africaines en milieu urbain. Paris: Office de la recherche scientifique et technique outre-mer, 1966.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An important early study of women in urban Africa during the 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • White, Louise. The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226895000.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      White’s pathbreaking study examines the complex motivations of and roles played by female prostitutes in Nairobi during the colonial era. The text also provides substantial insight into the nature of colonial urbanization in the early 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Economic History

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      African economic historians have made substantial contributions to the wider field of economic history. Iliffe 1987 provides a broad examination of poverty across the broad swath of African history. Lovejoy 1986 examines long-distance economic exchange via the example of the Saharan salt trade. Meillassoux 1964 provides anthropological insights into the economic frameworks that influence local communities and relationships. Williams 1944 and Inikori 2002 both examine the relationship among the developing Atlantic world, African poverty, and the rise of industrialization in Europe. Berry 1985 is a significant study that provides insight into the strategies of farmers in southwestern Nigeria to establish their sons in more “modern” professions. Robertson 1990 provides insights into the power of class and economic relationships between urban women in Ghana. Wylie 2001 uses an analysis of diet to examine the connection among class, race, and health under apartheid in South Africa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Berry, Sara. Fathers Work for Their Sons: Accumulation, Mobility, and Class Formation in an Extended Yoruba Community. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Berry examines the complex motivations and strategies of investment utilized by cocoa farmers to help establish their sons in what were considered to be “modern” professions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Iliffe, John. The African Poor: A History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511584121Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In this ambitious undertaking, Iliffe provides a panoramic survey of poverty across a broad swath of African history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Inikori, Joseph. Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England: A Study in International Trade and Economic Development. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511583940Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Expanding on Eric William’s earlier argument regarding the relationship between Atlantic slavery and capitalism (Williams 1944), Inikori provides a detailed argument regarding the relationship among slavery, overseas markets, African commodities, and the rise of British industrialization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lovejoy, Paul E. Salt of the Desert Sun: A History of Salt Production and Trade in the Central Sudan. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A detailed analysis of salt production and trade in West Africa, offering valuable insight into African economic production and exchange.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Meillassoux, Claude. Anthropologie économicque des Gouro de Cóte d’Ivoire: De l’économie de subsistance à l’agriculture commerciale. Paris: Moulton, 1964.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Among Meillassoux’s earlier works, this book was instrumental in highlighting division of class and status among even stateless African societies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Robertson, Claire C. Sharing the Same Bowl: A Socioeconomic History of Women and Class in Accra, Ghana. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Drawing heavily on both interviews and social-scientific surveys, Robertson’s text proves valuable insights into the nature of class and status among urban women in southern Ghana.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Although not focused primarily on Africa, William’s broadside against the defense of British abolition and imperialism as largely benevolent undertakings was nonetheless a major turning point in perspectives on slavery, colonialism, and the economic roots of the Atlantic world. Not released in the United Kingdom until 1964, numerous editions and reprints have followed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Wylie, Diana. Starving on a Full Stomach: Hunger and the Triumph of Cultural Racism in Modern South Africa. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In this innovative study, Wylie examines the intellectual and medical conceptions of African diet constructed by white South African officials and doctors. In so doing she contrasts the reality of African agriculture and diets in the region to the social and political justifications of Apartheid.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Environmental History

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While the field of environmental history is even younger than that of African history, African historians have nonetheless made substantial contributions toward our understanding of historical environmental change and on humans’ interaction with the environment. Beinart and McGregor 2003 provides a broad introduction to African environmental history and complicate the received wisdom of colonial perspectives on African land use. Carney 2002 argues for the significant African contribution to the Columbian Exchange, particularly relating to the establishment of rice agriculture in the Americas. McCann 1999 provides an overview of African environmental history from 1800 to 1990. McCann 2005 focuses on the impact of maize in Africa after 1500. Finally, McCann 2009 uses the examination of African cuisine to examine Africa’s participation in global ecological exchange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Beinart, William, and JoAnn McGregor, eds. Social History and African Environments. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A significant contribution to the growing field of environmental history and African history. In particular, this collection engages and contests the legacy of colonial perspectives on African land use and environment and focuses on African conceptions of land and nature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Carney, Judith A. Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In this influential intellectual and ecological history, Carney argues that it was enslaved Africans who introduced rice-growing technologies into the Americas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • McCann, James C. Green Land, Brown Land, Black Land: An Environmental History of Africa, 1800–1990. London: Heinemann, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Aimed at undergraduate and popular audiences, McCann’s work focus first and foremost on countering the broad misconception of Africa as a land of “wilderness,” arguing instead that the continent has long been transformed and defined by its human inhabitants.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • McCann, James C. Maize and Grace: Africa’s Encounter with a New World Crop, 1500–2000. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Despite the corny title, this text provides an invaluable insight into the impact of the Columbian Exchange in Africa as viewed through the case study of a single crop.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • McCann, James C. Stirring the Pot: A History of African Cuisine. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Part of Ohio University Press’s Africa in World History series, this text places the history of African cuisine in the broader context of global environmental and cultural exchange.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Africa and the New World History

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although the great bulk of African historical scholarship has to date been produced under the aegis of the area studies paradigm of scholarship, in recent years an increasing number of African historians have begun to expand their frame of historical reference to place Africa in the context of what is often called “the new world history.” Wallerstein 1986 is an example of how world systems scholars seek to understand Africa, while Cooper, et al. 1993 represents an example of the influence of world systems frameworks in informing Africanist scholarship. Ehret 1998 highlights the growing desire to place African history in the context of global grand narratives. Xerxia 2004 is a fascinating dialogue among Africanists and other scholars regarding the utility of the area studies model for the understanding of African and world history. Manning 2003 is an examination of changing frameworks of world history, examined in no small part through the lens of changing understandings of Africa. Manning 2009 offers insights into world history through the examination of the global African diaspora. Wright 2010 provides a fascinating study of modern world history as seen through a single town on the banks of the Gambia River.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cooper, Frederick, Florencia E. Mallon, Allen F. Isaacman, Steve J. Stern, and William Roseberry. Confronting Historical Paradigms: Peasants, Labor and the Capitalist World System. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A world systems analysis examining many aspects of economic and social history across area studies boundaries.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Ehret, Chris. An African Classical Age: Eastern and Southern Africa in World History, 1000 BCE to CE 400. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ehret’s text is notable not only in its attention to what might be considered ancient African history but also in its global comparative context.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Manning, Patrick. Navigating World History: Historians Create a Global Past. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Using the study of Africa as a touchstone, Manning herein provides useful insights into the development of both the historiography and methodology of world history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Manning, Patrick. The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Moving beyond the Atlantic World, this text examines the global African diaspora around the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Indian Ocean worlds. In so doing, Manning engages crucial issues of identity, race, and cultural synthesis.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Wallerstein, Immanuel. Africa and the Modern World. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In this relatively brief volume, Wallerstein relates his concept of world systems analysis to a study of the trajectory of Africa’s place in the global economy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Wright, Donald R. The World and a Very Small Place in Africa: A History of Globalization in Niumi, the Gambia. Armonk, NY: Sharp, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This innovative study examines the history of a seemingly insignificant village along the Gambia River in light of its ongoing contact and interaction with the wider world. In so doing, Wright highlights not only the story of a small town’s nonisolation from the broader currents of Atlantic and world history but also the scope of broader human networks of economic, political, and cultural interaction.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Xerxia, Donald, ed. Special Forum: Africa in World History. Historically Speaking 6.2 (2004): 7–30.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A collection of articles from invited specialists in the history or Africa, the world, and other regions. Inspired by panels from the African Studies Association meeting in 2003, these essays debate the proper relationship between African and world histories.

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