History of Africa

We know it seems rather bold of us to tackle the history of an entire continent, so we won’t, but we are prompted to provide some guidance by discovering that the eight-volume (a ninth is being planned) UNESCO General History of Africa is now completely online. Accompanying these volumes are companion studies and documents, and Indian and Arab sources for African history. These volumes, published between 1981 and 1993, established African historiography as a legitimate field of endeavor. Researchers spent years compiling the rich oral and archival material that form a uniquely African perspective. If historians used Native American oral traditions, why not the griot traditions of Africa? A good read on this topic is authored by Bethwell Ogot, one of the main forces behind this series, in his African Historiography: From colonial historiography to UNESCO’s general history of Africa.

Other sources for monographs and documentary material can be found: HathiTrust contains thousands of books on Africa; the University of California Press gives access to more recent material than HathiTrust; and the University of Wisconsin’s Africana Digitization Project has titles of interest as well.

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