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Brizuela-Garcia, Esperanza (2002) Decolonising African History: Crises and Transitions in African Historiography, 1950-1990. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis looks at the development of anglophone African historiography from the 1950s to the 1990s. The main question underlying this work is why, during the last thirty years, has African History been described as being "in crisis". The main argument is that the perception of a crisis has come from the perceived failure of historians to "decolonise" African History and to produce a "usable past." The thesis analyses the different ways in which these expectations have changed over time, and studies them from different perspectives. First, the thesis looks at the way in which African History has been incorporated into universities. It argues that the particular circumstances of different academic enviromnents have influenced historians' priorities and attitudes towards the study of African History. The analysis if these issues focuses on the study of six institutions: University of Cape Town in South Africa, University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, University of Ghana, School of Oriental and African Studies, Northwestern University, and the University of Wisconsin. The second objective is to situate these cases in the context of wider historiographical changes in the study of the African past. This analysis examines the most significant changes in the development of the field. An attempt is also made to understand these changes in connection to wider transformations in the social sciences and the theory of knowledge. It is argued that dramatic changes occurred in the way we understand the production of knowledge during the last forty years are intimately connected with the idea of a crisis in African History. Ultimately, this thesis tries to prove that the objective of producing a "usable past" has been evaluated in different ways over time. And that these forms of evaluation are related to particular institutional environments and to changes in our wider understanding of historical knowledge and its production. Thus, there have been different forms of crisis in the development of African History.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:18

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