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date: 20 February 2020

African Urban History and Historiography 

Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Historiography: Methods and Sources
Author(s):
Eric RossEric Ross

The urban history of Africa is as ancient, varied, and as complex as that of other continents, and the study of this history shares many of the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological challenges of urban history generally. Our knowledge of Africa’s historic cities is based on archaeological investigation, analysis of historic documents, linguistics, and ethnographic field methods. The historiography of cities in Africa has debated what constitutes a city, how urbanization can be apprehended in the archaeological record and in documentary sources, why cities emerged, and how historic cities have related to states. Religion, trade, and the concentration of power were major factors in the rise of cities across the continent. The largest and most well-studied cities were often the capitals of important states. The great impact colonization had on African urbanization is a major topic of research, including in the study of postcolonial cities.... ...

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