In the Active Voice (Routledge Revivals): Volume 1

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Africa since - The Past of the Present (Frederick Cooper) - African information centre

Popular Features. New Releases. Now revised to include the history and scholarship of Africa since the turn of the millennium, this important book continues to help students understand the process out of which Africa's position in the world has emerged. A history of decolonisation and independence, it allows readers to see just what political independence did and did not signify, and how men and women, peasants and workers, religious and local leaders sought to refashion the way they lived, worked and interacted with each other.

Covering the transformation of Africa from a continent marked by colonisation to one of independent states, Frederick Cooper follows the 'development question' across time, seeing how first colonial regimes and then African elites sought to transform African society in their own ways. He shows how people in cities and villages tried to make their way in an unequal world, through times of hope, despair, renewed possibilities, and continued uncertainties. Looking beyond the debate over what or who may be to blame, Cooper explores alternatives for the future.

Other books in this series. Add to basket. Table of contents 1. Introduction; 2. Workers, peasants, and the challenge to colonial rule; 3. Uses ancient writings to analyze three thousand years of complex black African history of cultural interactions with the classical and Mediterranean worlds.

Shows the absence of virulent racial prejudice against Africans in Antiquity. Richly illustrated. The islamization of Africa resulted in the production of Arabic writings by Muslim scholars, either foreign or indigenous. Works were also composed in some of the local languages using the Arabic script. Most of these works are eyewitness accounts, much like that of Ibn Battuta Hamdun and King and much of Leo Africanus Leo Africanus ; other writings were composed from secondhand sources. Among the most notable collection of these sources are Levtzion and Hopkins and Cuoq on West Africa; Koubbel and Matev , which contains primary Arabic texts with Russian translations, as well as Kamal with its French translations , are continental in focus.

Hunwick reviews extant internal and external Arabic sources for sub-Saharan African history and the problems associated with utilizing them. Djait examines written sources before the 15th century. Cuoq, J. Translated with notes by J. Collection focuses on West Africa. Also indicated here are the source materials for the translations. An exploration of the various written sources available for the writing of African history composed before the 15th century.

Identifies the types, nature, spread, strength, and limitations of the sources. Includes a spreadsheet listing of Arabic sources before AD. Hamdun, S. Ibn Battuta in Black Africa. London: Rex Collings, A compilation of writings on Africa by the most famous Arab travelers in medieval Africa. Detailed and illuminating firsthand accounts of the practice of Islam, hospitality, gender issues, politics, and court lives in western and eastern Africa during the midth century. Hunwick, John O. Edited by John Edward Philips, — Reviews the challenges of interpreting known published and unpublished external and internal Arabic sources for sub-Saharan African history.

Sources in African languages written in Arabic scripts, such as Hausa and Swahili, are also examined. Includes an appendix of archival collections and extensive notes and references. Leo Africanus. Originally written and published in Italian in Though it contains some factual inaccuracies, this remained the main source of information in Europe on the history and geography of Africa for nearly three centuries. Kamal, Youssouf, ed. Monumenta Cartograhica Africae et Aegypti.

Presents a collection of maps of Africa. Continent-wide in approach, this book, however, excludes the Maghreb. Extensive collection of all known descriptions of Egypt and Africa in their original languages with English or French translations. Koubbel, L. Moscow, Takes a broad continental approach. Includes materials on Egypt and black Africa and also Arabic primary texts with Russian translations.

Levtzion, Nehemiah, and J. Hopkins, eds. New York: Cambridge University Press, The most comprehensive collection of early Arabic sources on African history in print, with sixty-four entries arranged chronologically and dating from AD to AD. Translated by J.

Contains an extensive notes section pp. European exploration, commerce, and missionary activities provided another major source for the writing of African history. The nature, scope, strength, and limitations of these sources have been the subject of much scholarship. Fage provides a guide to these sources written in European languages. Hrbek provides a general overview of a different range of written sources from the 15th century onward.

Anyake lists, describes, and contextualizes various written sources in the different European languages. Jones a examines the limited scope and coverage of European written sources. Heintze and Jones highlights the value as well as the problems and limitations of using these sources. Thornton examines the geographical spread as well as the biases of and inspiration for these sources. Hilton explores the strength and limitations of using missionary sources for reconstructing African religious history.

Anyake, Joseph B. A brief survey of the major sources for the writing of African history, from the earliest times to the present. Important for its listing, description, and contextualization of extant written sources in Arabic and in the various African and European languages. Listings of published books and collections on European sources on Africa. Includes critical annotations on the sources as well as their publication history.

More comprehensive in coverage and listing of sources than Jones b and Thornton Heintze, Beatrix, and Adam Jones, eds.


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Paideuma Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, An overview of the problems and challenges, as well as the immeasurable value, of using European sources. Examines the biased and tendentious nature of the sources, their limited geographical scope, and the general failure to identify sources of information. Hilton, Anne. Examines the strength and limitations of extant European sources for the reconstruction of African religious history.

Special focus on missionary records, reports, correspondence, newsletters, and other materials. Illustrative of the value of using eyewitness missionary accounts in spite of their obvious biases and limitations. Hrbek, I. Ki-Zerbo, — An introductory survey of available written sources on the African past composed since the 15th century. Main emphasis on sources in Arabic, Oriental, European, and indigenous African languages. Brief survey of archival sources, private papers, official reports, and other records.

Continues where Djait leaves off.

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Jones, Adam. Shows that the value ascribed to these sources was way out of proportion to the geographical areas covered by them. Uses illustrative maps to show that approximately 80 percent of the continent was out of the purview of European observers and writers. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, b. A review of published accounts, collections, and editions of European sources on precolonial African history. Tries to separate the chaff from the wheat by highlighting their strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and usefulness. Useful for specialists and graduate students.

Thornton, John. A brief overview of the extent, geographical spread, and scope, as well as the variety and problems, of European sources for reconstructing the precolonial history of Africa. Discussion of the motives and biases underpinning European sources. The needs and exigencies of European colonialism resulted in the production of written documents, many of historical nature and value.

Colonial accountability and efficient administration required the keeping of accurate records and the maintenance of regular written correspondence among administrators, as well as with the colonial offices in the various European capitals. Tax assessment, labor recruitment, and administrative organization led to population census, district assessment reports, as well as annual, periodic, and other special reports with much information of historical value.

Many of these records are now preserved and are generally available in the various national archives in Africa, as well as in colonial records offices or other repositories in Europe. Some of these records are on microfilm while some are becoming available digitally. Fetter provides a collection of some of these colonial primary sources.

Africa since 1940: The Past of the Present (New Approaches to African History)

Afigbo and Falola give a general critique of the colonial sources. Jones and MacGaffey examine the relations between history and anthropology during the colonial period. Sanders reviews the debates over the Hamitic hypothesis. Spear criticizes overstating the invention thesis, while Cooper insists on the critical questioning of the use of European categories in the comprehension of the African colonial experience.

Afigbo, Adele E. Edited by Toyin Falola, — Cooper, Frederick. DOI: An overview of the colonial experience. Eschews the concept of subalternity to reject the primacy of European epistemological categories, its universalizing claims, and the totalizing arrogance of its modernizing ideologies in the study of African experience of and reaction to colonialism.

Politics of Africa

Emphasizes African appropriations and reformulations of the colonial categories. A brief survey of the range, nature, and scope of the Christian missionary and European colonial sources on African history. Shows how the needs and objectives of missionary and imperial ventures generated a massive production of documents. Examines the contents, scholarship values, and limitations of these sources. Fetter, Bruce, ed.

Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, A collection of primary sources, with notes and critical appraisals. For general readers, as well as for undergraduate and graduate students. Jones, G. An introspective critique of the relations between anthropology and the colonial service by a former colonial administrator turned anthropologist.

Examines the social, political, and intellectual formative influences on the development of anthropological and historical writings during the colonial period. MacGaffey, Wyatt. Using Zaire as a case study, examines many of the misconceptions and misunderstandings underpinning much of the anthropological and historical writings on Africa during the colonial and postcolonial period. Sanders, E. A review of the controversy surrounding the Hamitic hypothesis, which denied initiatives to Africans and offered external explanations for their achievements.

Shows the invalidity of the hypothesis and the validation of African initiatives, historicity, and civilizations. Spear, Thomas. The emergence of a new and Western-educated elite, especially during the colonial period, set the stage for the development of an indigenous historiographical tradition. This process began early, as evidenced in the eclectic but rich collection of early Christian Ethiopian primary sources in Beckingham and Huntingford Pankhurst gives the dynastic history of Ethiopian kingdoms from the 11th to the 20th centuries.

Other pioneers include Solomon Plaatje Plaatje : From an indigenous perspective, Plaatje provides valuable insights on life and the nature and impact of race relations in earlyth-century South Africa. Reindorf details the indigenous laws, customs, and history in the then Gold Coast. And Samuel Johnson provides a seminal contribution to Yoruba history, as detailed in Falola Hrbek provides an overview of written sources on Africa since the 15th century, with special focus on indigenous production.

Beckingham, C. Huntingford, eds. Some Records of Ethiopia, — London: Hakluyt Society, A collection of a wide variety of Ethiopian literature such as folklores, poems, monastic histories, religious polemics, and hagiographies. Many of these contain valuable historical information. Falola, Toyin, ed. A collection of essays written by notable scholars on Yoruba history, exploring the importance of Samuel Johnson and especially his seminal book The History of the Yorubas Johnson in the development of indigenous historiography in Africa and in the writing of Yoruba history.

Examines written sources on Africa since the 15th century. Special explorations of key indigenous writers and leading works in European languages and in various indigenous languages of Africa composed in customized or Arabic scripts, from the Gonja chronicles in West Africa to the Merina chronicles in Madagascar. Johnson, Samuel. London: Routledge, Originally completed in Probably the most famous, the most cited, and the most celebrated example of indigenous historiography.

Provides a comprehensive account of early Yoruba history and the 19th-century wars. Valuable information on Yoruba language, customs, and government. Work celebrated and critiqued in Falola Pankhurst, R. The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles.


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  8. One of the earliest indigenous records on the kingdom of Ethiopia. Recordkeeping began in the 13th century and contained some details for nearly every reign up until the 20th century. Valuable source of information on the royal courts and key events of each reign. Plaatje, Solomon T. London: P. King, A pioneer in South African indigenous historiography. Reindorf, Carl S. History of the Gold Coast and Asante. Basel, Switzerland: Reindorf, Author was a catechist and medical practitioner as well as a participant in many of the 19th-century events he describes.

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    There is much information on indigenous laws and customs, and this is designed to serve as a corrective to prevailing distortions and misunderstandings about the culture and customs of the peoples and societies of the Gold Coast. The late colonial and the immediate postcolonial era inaugurated a new approach to African history in which emphasis began to be placed on African autonomy, agency, and initiative prior to and in the face of European advent, as evidenced in Denoon and Kuper and Omer-Cooper Lonsdale presents nationalism as a recent post—World War II power-grabbing phenomenon.

    Temu, who traced nationalism to the lateth-century resistance to colonization see Temu , nothing could be further from the truth. Ranger calls for a historiographical approach that emphasizes relevance. Ajayi insists on putting colonialism in its proper perspective, arguing that emphasis should be placed on continuity and adaptability and not just change, while Tamuno warns against undue glorification of the past and the misuse of history to legitimate the present. Edited by Terence Ranger, — Nairobi, Kenya: East African, Argues that while colonialism was important, it was neither overwhelming nor crushing in its impact.

    It did not stop African societies in their tracks, nor was it a complete break with the past. Denoon, Donald, and Adam Kuper. Focusing on Tanzania, article presents the establishment of nation-based histories in independent Africa as the direct by-product of the establishment of national universities in the newly independent states.

    The ultimate goal was to recover African initiatives in the making of African history. Lonsdale, John. Presents nationalism in Africa as a recent phenomenon and a post—World War II development directed principally at seizing political power from the colonial administrators. Compare to Temu , which insists that the nationalist story should be traced back to the era of African resistance to European conquest. A blistering critique of the nationalist and liberalist historiography. Shows how it jettisoned the contemptuous European view of the African past but failed to free itself from an ethnocentric view of history that privileged the existence of states, cities, and other elements of advanced civilizations as enunciated by Western historians.

    Omer-Cooper, J. A resounding affirmation of the nationalist thesis affirming African initiatives, agency, and autonomy in his historical development. Presents the Mfecane , or Zulu revolution, and the resultant wide variety of sociopolitical systems as a direct result of internal rather than external stimuli and as a testament to African capabilities.

    Examines the continuing crisis of African historiography and the challenges and implications of defining new and relevant approaches to the study of the African past predicated on responding to the prevailing crisis of nation building and disillusionment of the post-independence years. Tamuno, Tekena N.

    History and History Makers in Modern Nigeria. Ibadan, Nigeria: Ibadan University Press, Rejects the use of history to either glorify the past or legitimate the present. Emphasis placed on good leadership, on the individual, and on merit, as well as on security, stability, and the welfare of all the component parts. Edited by I. Kimambo and Arnold J. Temu, — Argues that the various efforts organized to resist European conquest in the late 19th century should be seen not as reactionary measures but as manifestations of African latent nationalism.

    The triumph of the Marxist revolution in Russia, China, and eastern Europe, as well as the nearly universal failure of development and nation-building efforts in the newly independent African states, resulted in widespread disillusionment and the adoption of a more radical and Marxian approach to the study of African history and society, as seen in Bernstein and Depelchin The daring but still-debated Rodney lays the root of African underdevelopment at the feet of its unequal relations with Europe over the last five hundred years.

    The reconstructed golden age of the past gave way to a mode of production in which inequality and class oppression began to feature prominently, as evidenced in Conquery-Vidrovitch , an article that emphasizes mode of production and control of long-distance trade, and Meillassoux , which focuses on subsistence production as well as local and long-distance trades. Neale emphasizes how and why the Marxist historians parted ways from the nationalist ones.

    Kapteijns analyzes historical writing by Nigerians to underscore the limits and constraints of independent history. Gutkind and Waterman explores the varied and conflicting positions and controversies of the Marxist approach, a position further reinforced by Robin Law, who saw little but flux and ambiguities in the approach Law Bernstein, H. Argues that the construction of theories of particular modes of production is a prerequisite for the production of historical knowledge but does not constitute the knowledge itself.

    Insists that the object of African history should be the deployment of theories to the investigation of concrete local historical phenomena. Conquery-Vidrovitch, Catherine. Defines an African mode of production as one in which the position of the ruler is based on the control of long-distance trade.

    Good to read this against Bernstein and Depelchin , which calls for theoretical formulations, and Meillassoux and Law , both of which emphasize a materialist approach. Gutkind, Peter, and P. Waterman, eds. London: Heinemann, An anthology of key radical writings on Africa, mostly from a Marxist perspective. Contains a valuable introduction highlighting the different positions, debates, and controversies within the Marxist school on Africa.

    Includes an exhaustive bibliography by Christopher Allen with references drawn from all fields of the social sciences. Kapteijns, L. Focusing on Nigeria, it analyzes how African elites attempted to chart a new course in the writing of African history. Important for its examination of the pros and cons of a history research agenda emphasizing identity, cultural affirmation, freedom, and independence.

    Compare to the more continental focus in Neale Law, Robin C. A review article. Examines different Marxist approaches to African history. Insightful exploration of the conceptual and the methodological flux, uncertainties, disarray, and incoherence inherent in the deployment of Marxist categories to the study of the precolonial African societies.

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    Meillassoux, Claude. Paris: Moulton, A bold application of the materialist approach to the understanding of precolonial African society by a leader of the French Marxist school of anthropology. Focuses on precolonial African modes of production with emphasis on subsistence and the peasantry, as well as on the control of local and long-distance trade.

    See especially chapter 6 pp. Rodney, Walter. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Widely acclaimed classic of the underdevelopment thesis. Rodney incisively applies the Marxist approach to lay the root of African under-development squarely at the feet of its unequal and crippling historical partnership with Europe. Covers from the era of the slave trade through colonialism to neo-colonial dependency.

    The development of African historiography has been marked by the emergence of several perspectives. None has been so trenchantly contested and so controversial as the Afrocentric approach. One of the earliest exponents of this approach is Diop , which propounds a black African origin for the civilizations of ancient Egypt. Bernal pushes the boundary beyond Africa to make ancient Egypt the mainspring of inspirations for the Greco-Roman classical civilization.

    This was a position and postulation roundly rejected by Lefkowitz and Lefkowitz and Rogers , as well as by Howe : All of these scholars vehemently denounced the various strands of the Afrocentric perspective as ahistorical and untenable interpretations driven not by academic concerns but by wishful thinking and ideological agendas. Asante, Molefi K. The Afrocentric Idea. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, A more recent affirmation of the Afrocentric perspective, first articulated in Diop , which sees Egypt as a nation of black people and the cradle of black African culture.

    Provocative and polemical. Bernal, Martin. London: Vintage, Argues for an Afro-Asiatic origin for the civilization of ancient Greece and Rome, with Egypt as the principal source of inspiration: a position accepted in Asante but vehemently rejected in Lefkowitz , Lefkowitz and Rogers , and Howe Multidisciplinary in scope and especially controversial. Diop, Cheik Anta. Snoogg Not Enough Ratings. Now revised to include the history and scholarship of Africa since the turn of the millennium, this important book continues to help students understand the process out of which Africa's position in the world has emerged.

    A history of decolonisation and independence, it allows readers to see just what political independence did and did not signify, and how men and women, peasants and workers, religious and local leaders sought to refashion the way they lived, worked and interacted with each other. Covering the transformation of Africa from a continent marked by colonisation to one of independent states, Fred Cooper follows the "development question" across time, seeing how first colonial regimes and then African elites sought to transform African society in their own ways.

    He shows how people in cities and villages tried to make their way in an unequal world, through times of hope, despair, renewed possibilities, and continued uncertainties. Looking beyond the debate over what or who may be to blame, he explores alternatives for the future.