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The Oxford History of Historical WritingVolume 5: Historical Writing Since 1945$
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Axel Schneider and Daniel Woolf

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199225996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199225996.001.0001

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African Historical Writing

African Historical Writing

(p.399) Chapter 19 African Historical Writing
The Oxford History of Historical Writing

Toyin Falola

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at African historical writing. Several intellectual currents fused to produce the emergence of modern African historiography. First, the global black intellectual movement, expressed in the politics of Pan-Africanism, argued that the knowledge of African history was key to the understanding of the past and future of black people. Second, within Africa itself, a tradition of indigenous writing had already demonstrated the richness of the continent’s history. The third current that moved writing about Africa to the mainstream academy began in the 1940s during the era of decolonization, the transfer of power from Europeans to Africans, and the creation of independent nations. The chapter then explores a key methodological innovation that emerged in African studies first but has had application in other fields—oral tradition as a pathway into pasts either largely devoid of written records or dominated by the written records of colonial occupiers.

Keywords:   African historical writing, African historiography, Pan-Africanism, African history, indigenous writing, oral tradition, written records, African studies

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