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African Studies
Course Code
AFRI 200
John Galaty

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• The general perception of Africa during this period was being shaped by the
views of Africans from the eyes of the Europeans, an example is philosopher
Rosseau‟s sentiment that “blacks were mentally inferior by nature”.
• Those who opposed abolition argued that slavery was the “natural law of Africa”,
and that is was as much a pPart I.
1) J&J Comaroff (South Africa)
In the late 1700s Africa became a term that drew negativity.
• The anti-slavery movement replayed Adam Smith‟s message in another key, that
all classes of society should be recognized as sharing a natural identity of interest
and that the common wealth depended on the liberty of everyone to pursue their
own ends.
• Abolitionism might have been a realistic attempt to resolve contradictions in the
culture of post-enlightenment England.
art of Africa as such things like cannibalism was, as
seen by some observers in Africa.
• Abolitionism didn‟t argue for a withdrawal from Africa, but instead it focused
on turning Africans from slaves into fit subjects of Europeans empires and
Into South Africa: Of Maps and Morals
In Britain around 1800, John Barrow, founder of the Royal Geographic Society
made a an account of his time in the new British colony of South Africa, and says
that the myth of savage Africans were false, and describes the Khosian people as
gentle, and the San people as “frighten children” in battle.(bows and arrow vs. the
Dutch Boers guns)
• Barrow portrayed the Dutch Boer settlers as brutal and ignorant in their
treatment of the native people.
• The representation of Africa in the late eighteenth century reflected a
conceptual order that arose, due to man defining “his place in nature”
rather than just being one of God‟s passive creature‟s.
In the early nineteenth century life sciences began see man as the
embodiment of perfection , since he alone distinguished himself by using
reason to discover his own essence, so things such as the slave trade which
blurred the notion of a “generic human nature” that separated man from
beast was looked down upon.
With the rise in comparative anatomy and biology as formal
sciences Africans were viewed as the “link” between man and
beast, since for ages it was moral and politico economic principles

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that separated man savage man and his white counterpart, but now
it was physical aspects.
Differences in natural features such as skull variation which were
correlated to aesthetic appearance and mental capacity. This all
culminated into a form of scientific racism.
The manner in which Africa was portrayed as a woman, was an
extension of a gender ideology fast taking root in late eighteenth
century Europe.
Women were thought to be easily susceptible to external
environmental factors much like non-Europeans.
Unlike women, European men were thought of as a self-contained
individual and were driven by inner reason, not by external
environmental factors.
Cheikh Anta Diop (Egypt)
In 1953 the RDA(Democratic African Rally) produced an article that incorporated the resume
of Nations negres, and had all their ideas about African history, thoughts on African Social
Structures, and on strategy and tactics in the struggle for national independence.
There are 3 factors that compete to form the collective personality of a people: psychic factor,
historical factor, and the linguistic factor. The west has not been calm enough and objective
enough to teach African history, without crude generalizations.
1. Ancient Egypt was an African civilization, and that fact cannot be ignored when studying
African history, just like the Greeks cannot be
ignored when studying European history.
• The ancient Egyptians created such innovations such as Pythagorean
mathematics, the theory of four elements of Thales of Miletus, Judaism, Islam,
and modern science, which were all rooted in Egyptian cosmogony and
• Certain Biblical passages are practically
copies of Egyptian moral texts.
2. In terms of culture and anthropology, to understand the semitic world, it requires
constant reference to underlying Black reality.
3. All races descended from the black race, as
stated by Leaky.
4. The research pattern utilized in L‟Afrique Noire Precoloniale in terms of sociohistorical, has
been utilized by many researchers. It strives to demonstrate the possibility of writing a history
on black Africa free of just chronological events, and to define the laws governing the
evolution of African sociopolitical structures.
5. In the second part of Nations negres, they demonstrate that African languages can be used

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to express philosophical and scientific thought,and that African culture will not be taken
seriously until their utilization in education actually happens.
2) Kwame Anthony Appiah (Africa)
Essay focuses on Afrocentrism (For Appiah, Afrocentrism is simply Eurocentrism turned
upside-down), and its positive and negative aspects. Afrocentrism (also known as Black
Solidarity)being at the base of various movements in the US that aim to revise the way that
African history is taught. On one hand, as Appiah points, Afrocentrism, as taught in European
and American Universities is tinted by a Euroceptic point of view. Also, shows that some
Europeans have strategically left out information on the “Egyptian origins of the Greek „miracle‟
and the black African origins of the Egyptian „miracle‟”.
--> Somewhat of an “irony” that Swahili is used as an Afrocentric language seeing as barely any
of the slave brought to Africa spoke it.
--> Major hero of Afrocentric movement = Cheikh Anta Diop.
--> Afrocentrism seems to share the presuppositions of the Victorian ideologies against which it
is reacting. Strong focus on racial issues. As Diop wrote, “Racial identity with the Egyptians
makes their achievements a moral asset for contemporary balcks”.
-->Paulin Hountondji: theory on “unanimism”, that is, that Africa has one, unified, culture.
--> Janheins Jahn‟s “ironic” book on “ntu”, and the concept that everything revolves around the
suffix “ing” in Western civilization → Europeans try to classify Africa as a “thing”, as a unit. But in
reality, is a mosaique of societies and civilizations that intertwine to form a country.
V.Y. Mudimbe (Africa)
--> Colonialism brought on new types of discourses in African traditions and writings. Two
images developed : the “Hobbesian picture of a pre-European Africa, in which there was no
account of Time; no Arts; no Letter; no Society; and which is worst of all, continued fear, and
danger of violent death”, and the Rousseauian picture of an African golden age of perfect liberty,
equality and fraternity”.
-->Colonialism/ colonization derived from Latin word “colere”, meaning to cultivate or to design.
Europeans (here Mudimbe is speaking about the Colonialists), have always tried to transform
non-Europeans into an ideal European.Three hypotheses emerge: “the domination of physical
space, the reformation of natives‟ minds, and the integration of local economic histories into
Western perspectives” (54). These principles constitute what is called the colonizing structure.
--> Metaphor of painter who is trying to represent what he sees in front of him. But in his artwork,
subjective vision, as he adds his own ideals/ideas… As Foucault wrote, “the person it resembles
and the person in whose eyes it is only a resemblance”.
--> Not until 18th century that African artifacts associated with “strange” and “ugly”.
--> Objects that maybe aren‟t seen as art in their “native context” become so, by “being given
simultaneously an aesthetic character and a potentiality for producing and reproducing other
artistic forms” (59).
--> As Fry points out, it is strange that their art is not seen as culture in a western perspective.
Part II.
1) E.E. Evans-Pritchard (Nuer/Sudan)
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