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The birth of independent African nations, the rise of the Civil Rights movement and African-American Studies in the U.S., and the end of the Cold War all prompted the emergence of African Studies as an important area of inquiry in Africa, Europe, and North America. Founded as Africa was emerging from centuries of the slave trade and foreign domination, the field has sought to displace racist foreign notions to explore African perspectives on art, culture, economics, geography and the environment, ancient and modern history, literature, music, politics, religion, science and thought, and society.
Over more than half a century, the field has emerged as a diverse multidisciplinary effort that spans multiple epistemologies and methodologies, making it challenging for students and scholars to be informed about every applicable area. And given the diversity of African environments and peoples it is difficult to appreciate both its broad similarities and complex specificities. We have thus combined broad introductions to such subjects as African society, politics, or literature with specific studies of individual peoples, states, or literary traditions to enable the user to appreciate Africans’ distinctiveness as well as their diversity.
Since the literature on African Studies is diverse, fast moving, controversial, and scattered among unfamiliar sources, we have asked leading scholars to identify the most significant themes and areas of study in their fields, recommend the best sources for exploring them, and discuss these works conceptual and empirical significance to provide a series of guided studies through the diverse approaches to a wide array of complex subjects. A great deal of this work has moved online with the most recent scholarship, research, and statistics appearing in online databases. With advances in online searching and database technologies, researchers and practitioners can easily access library catalogs, bibliographic indexes, and other lists that show thousands of resources that might also be useful to them. In this situation what is most needed is expert guidance. Researchers and practitioners at all levels need tools that help them filter through the proliferation of information sources to material that is reliable and directly relevant to their inquiries. Oxford Bibliographies in African Studies offers a trustworthy pathway through the thicket of information overload.
Editor in Chief
Thomas Spear is Professor of African History Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where in addition to teaching, he was Director of the African Studies Program and Chair of the History Department. He is a leading scholar of pre-colonial and East African history, and has published a large number of books and articles on the subject, including The Kaya Complex: A History of the Mijikenda Peoples of the Kenya Coast to 1900 (1978), Kenya’s Past: An Introduction to Historical Method in Africa (1981), The Swahili: Reconstructing the History and Language of an African Society, 800-1500 (with Derek Nurse, 1985), Mountain Farmers: Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru (1997), Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa (ed, with Richard Waller, 1993) and East African Expressions of Christianity (ed. with Isaria Kimambo, 1999). He has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Social Science Research Council, served as editor of the Journal of African History, and taught previously at La Trobe University and Williams College.
FOUNDING EDITORIAL BOARD
* = recently published
Arts and Archaeology
Geography and Environment
Language and Literature
Science, Medicine, and Health
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