South Africa’s Struggle for Human Rights · By Saul Dubow

The human rights movement in South Africa’s transition to a postapartheid democracy has been widely celebrated as a triumph for global human rights. It was a key aspect of the political transition, often referred to as a miracle, which brought majority rule and democracy to South Africa. The country’s new constitution, its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the moral authority of Nelson Mandela stand as exemplary proof of this achievement.

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Spear of the Nation: Umkhonto weSizwe · South Africa’s Liberation Army, 1960s–1990s · By Janet Cherry

Umkhonto weSizwe, Spear of the Nation, was arguably the last of the great liberation armies of the twentieth century—but it never got to “march triumphant into Pretoria.” MK—as it was known—was the armed wing of the African National Congress, South Africa’s liberation movement, that challenged the South African apartheid government.

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Invisible Agents · Spirits in a Central African History · By David M. Gordon

Invisible Agents shows how personal and deeply felt spiritual beliefs can inspire social movements and influence historical change. Conventional historiography concentrates on the secular, materialist, or moral sources of political agency. Instead, David M. Gordon argues, when people perceive spirits as exerting power in the visible world, these beliefs form the basis for individual and collective actions.

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Epidemics · The Story of South Africa’s Five Most Lethal Human Diseases · By Howard Phillips

This is the first history of epidemics in South Africa, lethal episodes that shaped this society over three centuries. Focusing on five devastating diseases between 1713 and today—smallpox, bubonic plague, “Spanish influenza,” polio, and HIV/AIDS—the book probes their origins, their catastrophic courses, and their consequences.

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Steve Biko · By Lindy Wilson

Steve Biko inspired a generation of black South Africans to claim their true identity and refuse to be a part of their own oppression. Through his example, he demonstrated fearlessness and self-esteem, and he led a black student movement countrywide that challenged and thwarted the culture of fear perpetuated by the apartheid regime. He paid the highest price with his life. The brutal circumstances of his death shocked the world and helped isolate his oppressors.

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Chocolate Islands · Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa · By Catherine Higgs

In Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa, Catherine Higgs traces the early-twentieth-century journey of the Englishman Joseph Burtt to the Portuguese colony of São Tomé and Príncipe—the chocolate islands—through Angola and Mozambique, and finally to British Southern Africa.

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Taifa · Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania · By James R. Brennan

Taifa is a story of African intellectual agency, but it is also an account of how nation and race emerged out of the legal, social, and economic histories in one major city, Dar es Salaam. Nation and race—both translatable as taifa in Swahili—were not simply universal ideas brought to Africa by European colonizers, as previous studies assume.

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Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake · Law and the Experience of Women and Children in Africa · Edited by Benjamin N. Lawrance and Richard L. Roberts

Women and children have been bartered, pawned, bought, and sold within and beyond Africa for longer than records have existed. This important collection examines the ways trafficking in women and children has changed from the aftermath of the “end of slavery” in Africa from the late nineteenth century to the present. The formal abolition of the slave trade and slavery did not end the demand for servile women and children.

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African Intellectuals and Decolonization · Edited by Nicholas M. Creary

Decades after independence for most African states, the struggle for decolonization is still incomplete, as demonstrated by the fact that Africa remains associated in many Western minds with chaos, illness, and disorder. African and non-African scholars alike still struggle to establish the idea of African humanity, in all its diversity, and to move Africa beyond its historical role as the foil to the West.

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The Americans Are Coming! · Dreams of African American Liberation in Segregationist South Africa · By Robert Trent Vinson

For more than half a century before World War II, black South Africans and “American Negroes“ — a group that included African Americans and black West Indians — established close institutional and personal relationships that laid the necessary groundwork for the successful South African and American antiapartheid movements. The Americans Are Coming! is a rare case study that places African history and American history in a global context and centers Africa in African Diaspora studies.

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The Anatomy of a South African Genocide · The Extermination of the Cape San Peoples · By Mohamed Adhikari

In 1998 David Kruiper, the leader of the ‡Khomani San who today live in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa, lamented, “We have been made into nothing.” His comment applies equally to the fate of all the hunter-gatherer societies of the Cape Colony who were destroyed by the impact of European colonialism. Until relatively recently, the extermination of the Cape San peoples has been treated as little more than a footnote to South African narratives of colonial conquest.

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Our New Husbands Are Here · Households, Gender, and Politics in a West African State from the Slave Trade to Colonial Rule · By Emily Lynn Osborn

In Our New Husbands Are Here, Emily Lynn Osborn investigates a central puzzle of power and politics in West African history: Why do women figure frequently in the political narratives of the precolonial period, and then vanish altogether with colonization? Osborn addresses this question by exploring the relationship of the household to the state.

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Environmental Imaginaries of the Middle East and North Africa · Edited by Diana K. Davis and Edmund Burke III · Afterword by Timothy Mitchell

The landscapes of the Middle East have captured our imaginations throughout history. Images of endless golden dunes, camel caravans, isolated desert oases, and rivers lined with palm trees have often framed written and visual representations of the region. Embedded in these portrayals is the common belief that the environment, in most places, has been deforested and desertified by centuries of misuse.

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The Demographics of Empire · The Colonial Order and the Creation of Knowledge · Edited by Karl Ittmann, Dennis D. Cordell, and Gregory H. Maddox

The Demographics of Empire is a collection of essays examining the multifaceted nature of the colonial science of demography in the last two centuries. The contributing scholars of Africa and the British and French empires focus on three questions: How have historians, demographers, and other social scientists understood colonial populations? What were the demographic realities of African societies and how did they affect colonial systems of power?

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The Law and the Prophets · Black Consciousness in South Africa, 1968–1977 · By Daniel Magaziner

“No nation can win a battle without faith,” Steve Biko wrote, and as Daniel R. Magaziner demonstrates in The Law and the Prophets, the combination of ideological and theological exploration proved a potent force. The 1970s are a decade virtually lost to South African historiography. This span of years bridged the banning and exile of the country’s best-known antiapartheid leaders in the early 1960s and the furious protests that erupted after the Soweto uprisings of June 16, 1976.

Cover of 'The Law and the Prophets'