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ILCAA Joint Research Project

How to Write African History ― New Perspectives and Methods (jrp000181)

How to write African History ― new perspectives and methods


  • African History


  • Africa



About the Project

Project term: April, 2011 - March, 2014

AIM OF PROJECT: There is a widespread misunderstanding among Africanists that the principal discipline for reconstructing and representing African history is anthropology because African societies are non-literate and oral sources should be used instead of searching for non-existent written records. This kind of understanding/misunderstanding is often related to the division of African continent into Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa. This division is further combined with another division of African Continent into the Christian/heathen part and the Islamic part, though all three of these divisions have different implications. We can also point out the fact that the distinction between Islamic and non-Islamic parts have been disproportionately emphasized in contemporary world politics since 9/11. The present research project aims first to examine the problems around the regional division and consider the possibility and impossibility of understanding and representing the Continent as a whole, without necessarily being committed to the Pan-African idea. Rather, it is meant as a method of historical science.
The problem of regional division is also related with that of periodization. One should be careful in applying the common divisions of pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial time, for the concrete feature of the periodization could differ from region to region, let alone within us subdivisions in each era.
In questioning the division of time and space in African history, its connection with the outside world will be emphasized. This way of seeing African history has been so far reflected only fragmentarily except for examinations of the transatlantic slave trade. In cooperation with the researchers of the history of the Middle East, a consideration of the Indian Ocean seems essential.
All these investigations go hand in hand with the search for and examination of historical sources. Written records in the part of Africa where the Islam is dominant would play a central role, but other records such as those in Ethiopia, for instance, must be adequately examined. Another task of this research project is to examine the possibility of colonial records and missionary records.
Throughout the research project the gender perspective will be given great importance.

Yoko NAGAHARA, Project Coordinator (Kyoto University)



  • Yoko NAGAHARA (Kyoto University)


  • Hiroki ISHIKAWA
  • Masato IIZUKA

Joint Researchers

  • Akiyo AMINAKA
  • Chizuko TOMINAGA
  • Hideaki SUZUKI
  • Katsuhiko KITAGAWA
  • Kouta KARIYA
  • Momoka MAKI
  • Shinji ASADA
  • Yasuo MIZOBE
  • Yoshiko KURITA



The 10th meeting : Report(Japanese)(193KB)

  • Date/Time: 12 October 2013 (Sat.) 13:30-18:00
  • Venue:Room 302, ILCAA
  • Language: Japanese
  • All members
    Discussion on the Publishing Plan
    Nozomi SAWADA (The University of Tokyo)
    “Early News Papers of Nigeria as Historical Sources”

The 9th meeting : Report(Japanese, English)(238KB)

  • Date/Time: 6 July 2013 (Sat.) 13:00-18:00
  • Venue: Hongo Satellite 7F
  • Jointly sponsored by Core Project “Pluralistic World Understanding based on African Studies”
  • 13:00-15:30 (closed meeting)
  • Yoshiko KURITA (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Chiba University)
    “Is a ‘History of Sudan’ possible after the collapse of Sudan? --toward deconstruction/reconstruction of the ‘History of Sudan’”
    Language: Japanese
  • 15:30-18:00 (open meeting)
  • Frederick COOPER (New York University)
    “Writing African History in a Time of Liberation and Beyond”
    Language: English

The 8th meeting : Report(English)(241KB)

  • Date/Time: 24 May 2013 (Fri.) 18:00-20:00
  • Venue: Room 301, ILCAA
  • Language: English
  • Jointly sponsored by AAS Kanto Division, JSPS Grants-in-Aid “Studies on Inter-colonial Movement of Soldiers, Labourers and Women” and Core Project “Pluralistic World Understanding based on African Studies”
  • Shamil Jeppie (University of Cape Town)
    “The History of Books, Libraries and Reading in West Africa”

The 7th meeting : Report(Japanese)(107KB)

  • Date/Time: 28 March 2013 (Thu.) 13:00-17:30
  • Venue: Hongo Satellite 5F, 7F
  • Part I (13:00-14:15) [closed]
  • Preliminary Discussion on the ”Handbook of Historical Ressearch of Africa”
  • Part II (14:30-17:30) [open]
  • Book Review: Mitsuo OGURA “Contemporary Africa and International Relations” (2012)
    Reviewer: Shin’ichi TAKEUCHI (IDE-JJETRO), Yoko NAGAHARA (ILCAA)

The 6th meeting : Report(Japanese)(252KB)

  • Date/Time: 2 June 2012 (Sat.) 13:30-18:00
  • Venue: Room 302 (Small Conference Room), ILCAA
  • Katsuhiko KITAGAWA (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Kansai University)
    “A Task of Writing Afrcian History”
    Chizuko TOMINAGA (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Miyagigakuin Women’s University)
    “A New Attempt of Biographical History - The lives of a woman who trusted Nkurmah, Nyerere and Nasir”

The 5th meeting : Report(Japanese)(88KB)

  • Date/Time: 29 May 2012 (Tue.) 18:00-20:00
  • Venue: Room 301 (Seminar Room), ILCAA
  • Language: English
  • Jointly sponsored by Core Project “Pluralistic World Understanding based on African Studies”
  • Dr. Liazzat Bonate (Seoul National University)
    “Gendering History: Muslim Women and Power in a Matrilineal Northern Mozambique”

The 4th meeting : Report(Japanese)(171KB)

  • Date/Time: 29 March 2012 (Thu.) 13:30-17:30
  • Venue: Room 302 (Small Conference Room), ILCAA
  • Yasuo MIZOBE (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Meiji University)
    “On Africanizing of African History: Recent Research on African Historiography”
    “Editing a Handbook for Historical Research of Africa”

The 3rd meeting : Report(Japanese)(159KB)

  • Date/Time: 12 November 2011 (Sat.) 14:00-18:30
  • Venue: Room 302 (Small Conference Room), ILCAA
  • Hideaki SUZUKI (ILCAA Joint Researcher, The Toyo Bunko)
    “Africa in a New Writing of World History? -Repartitioning ‘Africa’”
    Momoka MAKI (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Tsuda College)
    “How to Deal with Borders and Nations in African History: From a Viewpoint of the History of Ethiopia and Eritoria”

The 2nd meeting : Report(English)(119KB)

  • Date/Time: 19 July 2011 (Tue.) 19:00-21:00
  • Venue: Hongo Satellite 7F
  • Language: English
  • Jointly sponsored by Core Project “Pluralistic World Understanding based on African Studies”
  • M. M. M. BOLAANE (University of Botswana, Department of History/National Museum of Ethnology)
    “A Biography of Moremi game Reserve in the Okavango delta, Botswana: People, Wildlife and Conservation in Africa”

The 1st meeting : Report(Japanese)(160KB)

  • Date/Time: 11 June 2011 (Sat.) 14:00-18:00
  • Venue: Hongo Satellite 7F
  • All members
    On the Project
    Kohta KARIYA (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Tokyo University)
    “On the Historiography of Africa” (Tentative Title)

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