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date: 06 August 2020

African Philosophies of History and Historiography 

The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Historiography: Methods and Sources
Toyin FalolaToyin Falola, Abikal BorahAbikal Borah

Africanist historians have convincingly resolved the vexed question of whether Africa has a history or not. However, the question of whether an African philosophy of history exists has haunted successive generations of historians. Since the late 1950s, African historiography has developed in diverse forms, which has added more complexity to the question. This article explores that complexity, rather than attempting to address it. However, in doing so it seeks to answer another equally relevant question: How has African historiography renewed once parochial and now globalized philosophies of history? While addressing this question, the article opens a conversation between two strands of historical thinking—one that posits a narrowly framed historical imagination of Africa’s global past and the other that appropriates universal philosophies of history by denying the continent’s historical differences from the rest of the world. The article offers a survey of various strands in African historiography to identify the interactive spaces between the global and the local, as well as the universal and the particular. The final section of the article explores a few examples of historical scholarship that direct the discussion to the central concern: the connections between historiography and African philosophies of history.... ...

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