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African History

African History Book List

Cover of 'Promise and Despair'

Promise and Despair
The First Struggle for a Non-Racial South Africa
By Martin Plaut

The struggle for freedom in South Africa goes back a long way. In 1909, a remarkable interracial delegation of South Africans traveled to London to lobby for a non-racialized constitution and franchise for all. Among their allies was Mahatma Gandhi, who later encapsulated lessons from the experience in his most important book, Hind Swaraj. Though the mission failed, the London debates were critical to the formation of the African National Congress in 1912.

Cover of 'Jihād in West Africa during the Age of Revolutions'

Jihād in West Africa during the Age of Revolutions
By Paul E. Lovejoy

In Jihād in West Africa during the Age of Revolutions, a preeminent historian of Africa argues that scholars of the Americas and the Atlantic world have not given Africa its due consideration as part of either the Atlantic world or the age of revolutions.

Cover of 'South Sudan'

South Sudan
A New History for a New Nation
By Douglas H. Johnson

Africa’s newest nation has a long history. Often considered remote and isolated from the rest of Africa, and usually associated with the violence of slavery and civil war, South Sudan has been an arena for a complex mixing of peoples, languages, and beliefs. The nation’s diversity is both its strength and a challenge as its people attempt to overcome the legacy of decades of war to build a new economic, political, and national future.

Cover of 'African Miracle, African Mirage'

African Miracle, African Mirage
Transnational Politics and the Paradox of Modernization in Ivory Coast
By Abou B. Bamba

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Ivory Coast was touted as an African miracle, a poster child for modernization and the ways that Western aid and multinational corporations would develop the continent. At the same time, Marxist scholars—most notably Samir Amin—described the capitalist activity in Ivory Coast as empty, unsustainable, and incapable of bringing real change to the lives of ordinary people.

Cover of 'The Art of Life in South Africa'

The Art of Life in South Africa
By Daniel Magaziner

From 1952 to 1981, South Africa’s apartheid government ran an art school for the training of African art teachers at Indaleni, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal. The Art of Life in South Africa is the story of the students, teachers, art, and politics that circulated through a small school, housed in a remote former mission station.

Cover of 'Modern Muslims'

Modern Muslims
A Sudan Memoir
By Steve Howard

Steve Howard departed for the Sudan in the early 1980s as an American graduate student beginning a three-year journey in which he would join and live with the Republican Brotherhood, the Sufi Muslim group led by the visionary Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. Taha was a religious intellectual who participated in the early days of Sudan’s anticolonial struggle, but quickly turned his movement into a religious reform effort based on his radical reading of the Qur’an. He was executed in 1985 for apostasy.

Cover of 'Citizenship, Belonging, and Political Community in Africa'

Citizenship, Belonging, and Political Community in Africa
Dialogues between Past and Present
Edited by Emma Hunter

Africa, it is often said, is suffering from a crisis of citizenship. At the heart of the contemporary debates this apparent crisis has provoked lie dynamic relations between the present and the past, between political theory and political practice, and between legal categories and lived experience. Yet studies of citizenship in Africa have often tended to foreshorten historical time and privilege the present at the expense of the deeper past.

Finalist for the 2017 Bethwell A. Ogot Prize from the African Studies Association · Finalist for the Joel Gregory Prize from the Canadian Association of African Studies
Cover of 'Cartography and the Political Imagination'

Cartography and the Political Imagination
Mapping Community in Colonial Kenya
By Julie MacArthur

Encompassing history, geography, and political science, MacArthur’s study evaluates the role of geographic imagination and the impact of cartography not only as means of expressing imperial power and constraining colonized populations, but as tools for the articulation of new political communities and resistance.

Cover of 'Marriage by Force?'

Marriage by Force?
Contestation over Consent and Coercion in Africa
Edited by Annie Bunting, Benjamin N. Lawrance, and Richard L. Roberts
· Foreword by Doris Buss
· Afterword by Emily S. Burrill

Despite international human rights decrees condemning it, marriage by force persists to this day. In this volume, the editors bring together legal scholars, anthropologists, historians, and development workers to explore the range of forced marriage practices in sub-Saharan Africa. The result is a masterful presentation of new perspectives on the practice.

Named a Choice Reviews Outstanding Academic Title for 2017
Cover of 'Ken Saro-Wiwa'

Ken Saro-Wiwa
By Roy Doron and Toyin Falola

A penetrating, accessible portrait of the activist whose execution galvanized the world. Hanged by the Nigerian government on November 10, 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa became a martyr for the Ogoni people and for human rights activists, as well as a symbol of modern Africans’ struggle against military dictatorship, corporate power, and environmental exploitation.

Cover of 'Nation on Board'

Nation on Board
Becoming Nigerian at Sea
By Lynn Schler

Schler’s study of Nigerian seamen during Nigeria’s transition to independence provides a fresh perspective on the meaning of decolonization for ordinary Africans. She traces the workers’ shift from optimism to disillusionment, providing a working-class perspective on nation building in Nigeria and illustrating the hopes for independence and subsequent disappointments.

Cover of 'The Gun in Central Africa'

The Gun in Central Africa
A History of Technology and Politics
By Giacomo Macola

Examining the history of warfare and political development through a technological lens, Macola relates the study of military technology to the history of gender. A lively analysis of the social forms and political systems of central Africa, this work focuses on the question of why some societies embraced the gun while others didn’t, and how the technology shaped them in the precolonial years.

Cover of 'Authentically African'

Authentically African
Arts and the Transnational Politics of Congolese Culture
By Sarah Van Beurden

Together, the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, and the Institut des Musées Nationaux du Zaire (IMNZ) in the Congo have defined and marketed Congolese art and culture. In Authentically African, Sarah Van Beurden traces the relationship between the possession, definition, and display of art and the construction of cultural authenticity and political legitimacy from the late colonial until the postcolonial era.

2016 winner of the American Historical Association's Wesley-Logan Prize in African diaspora history · Finalist for the 2016 Fage and Oliver Prize from the African Studies Association of the UK · Winner of the 2017 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize
Cover of 'Crossing the Color Line'

Crossing the Color Line
Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana
By Carina E. Ray

Interracial sex mattered to the British colonial state in West Africa. In Crossing the Color Line, Carina E. Ray goes beyond this fact to reveal how Ghanaians shaped and defined these powerfully charged relations. The interplay between African and European perspectives and practices, argues Ray, transformed these relationships into key sites for consolidating colonial rule and for contesting its hierarchies of power.

Cover of 'The Gender of Piety'

The Gender of Piety
Family, Faith, and Colonial Rule in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe
By Wendy Urban-Mead

The Gender of Piety is an intimate history of the Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe, or BICC, as related through six individual life histories that extend from the early colonial years through the first decade after independence. Taken together, these six lives show how men and women of the BICC experienced and sequenced their piety in different ways. Women usually remained tied to the church throughout their lives, while men often had a more strained relationship with it.