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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Africa's Pasts and Africa's Historians
Author:Cooper, FrederickISNI
Periodical:African Sociological Review
Geographic term:Africa
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/24487401
Abstract:This reflection on history within Africa brings out the possibilities and difficulties of writing histories that neither impose a singular model of progress nor posit a kaleidescopic world of disparate and fragmentary communities. It considers the critiques of a universality that turns out to be Western or a nationalism that replicates imperial categories, and argues that colonial encounters have helped to define the most 'Western' of values, including equality and sovereignty, nonracialism, and universal suffrage. It tries to engage the dynamics of history in Africa, regarding 'African' and 'European' structures as mutually interacting and mutually constitutive, and stressing the importance of tracing out historical threads, ongoing processes which redefine what is possible and impossible. It emphasizes the importance of historical analysis in countering other historical visions on which particular images of Africa are based. It notes that even though the production of historical writing does not take place on level ground, historical arguments can expose coercion and oppression, emphasize the limits of power, and suggest that there are more possible futures and more possible pasts than the master narrative lets on. Notes, ref.