AbstractThe publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) marked a paradigm shift in thinking about the relationship between the West and the non‐West. Said coupled his critique of European discourse on the Middle East to issues of representation generally, demonstrating that Western discourse on the Middle East was linked to power, trafficked in racist stereotypes and continually reproduced itself. Despite important achievements, the critique of colonial representations often appeared abstract and disengaged from its own history as well as the specific colonial histories it sought to explain. We contend that while colonial representations have been theorized, they have yet to be adequately historicized. To this end, we trace the genealogy of the critique of colonial forms of knowledge in Britain, France and the US from the mid‐1940s to 1978. We argue for the historicization of the critique of orientalism, and for a more philosophically adequate theorization of modernity in world history.
Hanretta, Sean. “Muslim Histories, African Societies: The Venture of Islamic Studies in Africa.” Journal of African History 46, no. 3 (November 2005): 479–91.
AbstractWITH the publication of these two volumes, the historical study of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa has reached its maturity. Drawing on five decades of scholarship since the professionalization of African history, and the long traditions of Islamic and African studies before that, these works – one the first truly usable textbook survey of the field, the other the first comprehensive reference – are both a successful culmination of what has gone before and guides to the paths ahead. In some cases the authors' and editors' careers are virtually synonymous with the field as a whole, as with the late Nehemia Levtzion, and all are among the acknowledged authorities on their specialties. David Robinson, author of Muslim Societies in African History, is one of the few who have established themselves as authorities on both the precolonial and colonial periods, and his work is central to active debates in each subfield. The individual and collective stature of Levtzion and Randall L. Pouwels, editors of The History of Islam in Africa, along with that of the twenty-two other contributors, makes the authority of the volume unprecedented.
Klein, Martin A. “The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on the Societies of the Western Sudan.” Social Science History 14, no. 2 (1990): 231–53.
AbstractStudies of the history of the Atlantic slave trade in Africa have focused on demography and within it on the number of slaves exported from Africa (Curtin 1969; Lovejoy 1982, 1983; Manning 1981). Seen from the perspective of African history, the question of the number exported is a window on larger fields of inquiry and an area open to research, but it is only a small part of the larger question of the impact of the trade on Africa. Working out a reasonable estimate of the number exported does not give us the number lost, for we can only estimate the number killed in wars and raids or the number who died while being moved toward slave markets. Even if the demographic question were the most important one, the most crucial aspect of it would not be the raw statistics of exports but the question of reproduction (Gregory and Cordell 1987). Reproduction involves a host of variables: nutrition, disease, agricultural productivity, security, political stability, and quality of life among others. Most of these are not amenable to precise answers. Furthermore, the question of reproduction leads us to the larger questions of political, social, and economic relationships. This article examines the effects of the slave trade on the institutional structure of Senegambia and the western Sudan and the reproduction of the societies involved.
Otayek, René, and Benjamin F. Soares. “Introduction: Islam and Muslim Politics in Africa.” In Islam and Muslim Politics in Africa, edited by Benjamin F. Soares and René Otayek, 1–24. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
AbstractDuring the decade and a half since the end of the cold war, Africa has seen momentous changes. Indeed, since the early 1990s, economic and political reform and liberalization, the weakening of the state (or even in some cases its collapse), and increased global interconnections have all had dramatic impacts on the continent. Such processes have also influenced Muslim societies and the practice of Islam in Africa in ways that are still not well understood. The contributors to this collection explore the intersecting dynamics of Islam, society, and the state in sub-Saharan Africa. They address the gap in our understanding of contemporary Africa and also challenge us to rethink many of our assumptions about Islam and Muslim societies in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
Spaulding, Jay, and Lidwien Kapteijns. “The Orientalist Paradigm in the Historiography of the Late Precolonial Sudan.” In Golden Ages, Dark Ages: Imagining the Past in Anthropology and History., edited by Jay O’Brien and William Roseberry, 139–51. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.
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