In Search of Medieval Africa: Sources, Methods, and Traps
Lecture by Steven Kaplan
Given at Harvard University on October 1, 2018
Excerpt: Since my talk today is the first in a series I’m going to begin by placing the study of medieval Africa in the larger context of the writing of African history since the 1960s; consider some of the challenges this topic / period present, especially periodization; explore some of the different ways in which scholars approach the field and talk about some of the regions now I stress when I talk when I talk about some of these regions that that I am NOT an expert on all of these regions and a lot of it comes from many years teaching a course on introduction to pre colonial Africa which was a year-long course and the first semester my goal was at least to teach the entire semester without talking about the contact with Europe.
In that way the writing of African history has always had and continues to have a certain defensive tone about it to this day almost every work on the African pass addressed to a general audience seems to begin by study stating that Africa does have a history and this history is important.