problems and issues in african historiography pdf

Problems and issues in african historiography pdf

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African Historiography and the Challenges of European Periodization: A Historical Comment

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Edited by Mark Jackson

African Studies Center

African Historiography and the Challenges of European Periodization: A Historical Comment

E-mail: murybarbosa gmail. This article presents an analysis of the African perspective in the project General History of Africa Unesco. It examines the institutional history of the project and the writing of history in this collection of eight volumes. This article synthesizes the reflections of a theoretical-methodological analysis of the writing of the collection General History of Africa GHA. A work in eight volumes - with an average of around pages per volume-written by three hundred and fifty international specialists in the history of Africa.

It is worth noting that this is not a simple collection of articles, but a collective work which, under the auspices of Unesco, took around thirty-five years in its first phase, between and At present there are at least three primordial motives to revise GHA. First, the scientific quality of the work. Second, this Unesco project guaranteed that the point of view of African intellectuals in relation to the history of their continent would become accessible to those interested.

As a result, since then there has been no excuse to work with African history without taking into account what African intellectuals think about the subject.

For this reason, it is intended to give it a definition, show its veracity in the work, and delineate the investigative lines that it constructed for the history of Africa, focusing on the writing of history in GHA. The idea of producing a general history of Africa was presented at the 1 st International Congress of Africanists, held in Accra, capital of Ghana, between 11 and 18 December This was an important event which, with the support of Unesco, brought together around specialists in Africa from around the world.

The idea of the project probably predated the meeting. Nevertheless, ratified in Accra in a public form was the desire to construct, with the help of Unesco, a work of international scientific cooperation, aiming to develop historic research in Africa.

The following year, in , it was submitted and approved as one of the international scientific cooperation rojects of the 16th General Conference of Unesco. This was when the General History of Africa project began, strictly speaking. Since its beginnings, two reasons were given to justify the participation of Unesco in the GHA project. First, this institution at the time was already concerned with the intensification of its work in Africa.

This is evident, for example, in the deliberations of the 15 th General Conference of Unesco aimed at increasing educational efforts on the continent. In turn, this was a direction which responded to a large number of African countries becoming members of the organization. Above all recently independent ones at the beginning of It is sufficient to remember that in , there existed only nine African countries in Unesco; while in , this number had risen to thirty-two.

The other reason is that Unesco could give the institutional and financial support that the project required. After all, since its beginning it was considered a large-scale international scientific project. According to its idealizers some principal motives justified the creation of the GHA project. First, there was the danger that the sources for the history of Africa would be definitely lost, both written and oral. Something which could be reverted in part with the collection of sources and the organization of archives in Africa.

These could accommodate both the existing documentation and that which was still to be investigated. However, this had to be done quickly. In second place was the desire for GHA to synthesize knowledge about the continent, still sparse and badly distributed in time and space. Only in this way would there be clarity about the gaps to be researched. Finally, there was the desire that GHA could propel a writing of history which could overcome colonist prejudice towards the continent, working to show African contributions to civilization in general.

Something seen as extremely necessary to African nations in the post-colonial period, which was emerging in Africa. In becoming the institution responsible for GHA in , Unesco assumed the institutional, administrative, and financial support of the project. However, in practice, as we will see, it was constructed in an autonomous manner, by a commission of well-known specialists from the area.

The primordial points of the GHA project were signed in the Project Presentation , signed by the then president of the committee, the Kenyan historian Betwhell Ogot:. Notwithstanding the best scientific quality possible, the General History of Africa does not seek to exhaust the subject and intends to be a work of synthesis that avoids dogmatism.

In many aspects it constitutes an outline of problems indicating the current state of knowledge and the important currents of thought and research, not hesitating to highlight in these circumstances divergences of opinion. It thus opens the way for later publications.

Africa is considered here as a whole. The aim is to show the historic relations between the different parts of the continent, very often subdivided in previously published works. The General History of Africa consists, above all, of a history of ideas and civilizations, societies and institutions. It is based on a wide diversity of sources, here understood as oral tradition and artistic expression. Here the General History of Africa is essentially examined from within. An erudite work, it is also to a great extent the faithful reflection of the way in which African authors see their own civilization.

Although prepared in an international environment and drawing on all the current scientific data, the History is equally a capital element in the recognition of African cultural heritage, showing the factors which have contributed to the unity of the continent. This effort at examining the facts based on its interior constitutes the novelty of the work and can, in addition to its scientific qualities, confer on it a great current value.

By showing the real face of Africa, the History can, at a time dominated by economic and technical rivalries, propose a particular conception of human values Ogot, a , p. This article aims to analyze the final point mentioned above. Both in relation to the problematization of its theoretical significance and the consequences derived from this for the construction of the history of Africa in the eight volumes of the work. Based on an initial reading of the point mentioned above, certain central elements can be highlighted.

This is history essentially examined from within. After all, it was to be a scientific history, a history which sought the recognition of African cultural heritage and, finally, a history which sought factors to contribute to the unity of the continent.

Finally, it involved a particular conception of human values. Undoubtedly, this is a large number of elements for a historic perspective. On the other hand, they are points which deserve to be problematized. There was no doubt that GHA was intended to publicize the opinion of African intellectuals about their own history. As has been said, we consider this a fundamental legacy for the work.

However, GHA was not a work organized and written only by African intellectuals. They were the majority in the directive councils of the project. On the other hand, the work counted on the participation of three hundred and fifty international specialists, mostly non-African. Similarly, the organization and effective implementation of the work also owed much to the active presence of non-African intellectuals.

Five of them in particular: M. Devisse a French anthropologist and historian , J. Vansina a Belgian anthropologist and linguist , I. Hrbek a Czech historian 3 , and J.

Vercoutter a French Egyptologist and historian. Given this fact, two positions are possible. As we will see, based on the reading of the primary sources especially the minutes of project organization meetings and the writing of the history of the GHA , it has to be concluded that the second interpretation is more true.

For this reason, the institutional history of the project is analyzed seeking to define its essential significance.

The African perspective in the institutional history of GHA. As has been stated, the General History of Africa began in , when it was approved as one of the projects of international scientific cooperation at the 16 th Unesco General Conference. Chosen for the position was one of the first African academic historians: the Nigerian Kenneth Onwuka Dike; vice-dean of Ibadan University and president of the 1 st International Congress of Africanists It was thus under the supervision of K.

Dike that the first project organizers were appointed. The first meeting of the specialists indicated by Unesco was held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, between August and September The president of this Commission was K. Lacheraf Algeria , its executive secretary. In addition, the following researchers took part in the meeting without specific positions, J. Ade Ajayi Nigeria , M. Dagnogo Ivory Coast , J. Devisse France , H. El Fasi Morocco , H. Djait Tunisia , D. Niane Senegal , L. Yabloshkov the former USSR.

The Director General of Unesco was represented by N. Bammate, from the Division of Cultural Studies of Unesco. In this meeting, GHA was projected, with the following aims: a the organization of sources; b a summary of existing knowledge; c the construction of a new history of Africa. In relation to the final point, of direct interest here, the Abidjan meeting traced some more long term questions, relevant for the writing of the history that was to emerge from the project.

The first was the scientific nature of the history intended for GHA. Something else that can also be noted was the concern with emphasizing the essential nature that the oral tradition would play in this; as well as the centrality of interdisciplinary work. Especially the relationship between History, Linguistics, and Archeology.

Also defended was the idea that the writing of the GHA should constitute a totalizing vision of Africa, aimed at the description of the continent as a related whole. After the Abidjan meeting, other meetings with smaller groups were held to normatize the collection of sources and the organization of institutions, which was done by Unesco between and In , for example, there was an administrative meeting in Paris.

This was important because it moved GHA forward to the second phase of the project, aimed at writing the work. However, many of the fundamental decisions in relation to this new path were taken in the following meeting of the Commission for the General History of Africa , held between 22 and 26 June , in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia.

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The urban history of Africa is as ancient, varied, and as complex as that of other continents, and the study of this history shares many of the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological challenges of urban history generally. The historiography of cities in Africa has debated what constitutes a city, how urbanization can be apprehended in the archaeological record and in documentary sources, why cities emerged, and how historic cities have related to states. Religion, trade, and the concentration of power were major factors in the rise of cities across the continent. The largest and most well-studied cities were often the capitals of important states. The great impact colonization had on African urbanization is a major topic of research, including in the study of postcolonial cities Access to the complete content on Oxford Reference requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

A s a group, the liberals adopted problem-oriented and interdisciplinary approaches to provide historical outlines and academic analysis or contem- porary issues.

Edited by Mark Jackson

African historiography is a branch of historiography concerning the African continent , its peoples, nations and variety of written and non-written histories. As such, African historiography has lent itself to contemporary methods of historiographical study and the incorporation of anthropological and sociological analysis. The chronology of African recorded history encompasses many movements of art, African nations and dialects, and its history has permeated through many mediums. History concerning the much of the pre- colonialist African continent is depicted through art or passed down through word of mouth.

March African historiography has been following divisions, schemes, and sequences set by the Europeans who in the past claimed that there was no such thing as African history and that the history of Africa began with the history of the Europeans in Africa. With this mind-set, in creating what they called African History, the early Eurocentric historians periodized it in sequences as they thought fit and proper.

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Ade-Ajayi May 26, — August 9, Date: August 11 — 14, In Conjunction with. The Late Emeritus Professor Jacob Festus Ade-Ajayi was an exemplary intellectual, a highly respected teacher, institution builder, a man of letters, and icon of the famous Ibadan School of History. As a world-renowned historian of Africa and eminent scholar, his contributions to African history and nationalist historiography helped frame contemporary narratives on African history, and colonial history and historiography. The decolonisation of knowledge through the perspectives he brought to the study of Africa have found resonance in different parts of the world. What epistemologies have emerged since his pioneering role in the field?

Temps et histoires du Maghre Does Colonialism Explain Everythi Colonialism in North Africa, because of its violence and the huge transformations it caused within its societies, shaped a historical vision of the North African past that obscured other, far more deeply rooted processes. The first section of the paper analyzes the outlines of colonial history; it examines the limitations of the spatial framework and the timeline markers used within this field of research. The second section examines the new vistas of research opened through serious consideration of the legacy and persistent effects of early modern history in North Africa. It explores these new perspectives in terms of time and space and interpretations of North African primary sources.


  • Clarice R. 07.04.2021 at 10:57

    field of colonial African historiography within the past decade. The clear that African states face problems and challenges significantly different from those in.

  • GrГ©goire R. 07.04.2021 at 23:51

    By Ihediwa Nkemjika Chimee. African historiography has been following divisions, schemes, and sequences set by the Europeans who in the.

  • Aubert B. 13.04.2021 at 20:37

    The Making of Contemporary Africa pp Cite as.


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