Africa In The World

Lessons From African History For World History


  • Kathleen Smythe Xavier University



African history is less consistently integrated into world history than other geographical regions. World history textbooks discuss African history more now than they did a decade ago, but Africa is usually only treated in any significant detail after 1000 CE (ancient Egypt being the exception).1 This is due in part, at least, to the fact that African historians have generally not situated their works and discoveries within a wider frame of world historical developments. Scholars of other regions, therefore, continue to assume that throughout its history Africa was isolated and perpetually lagging behind, thus mimicking historical precedents elsewhere.2 Achille Mbembe laments Africa's academic isolation, contending that:

To a very large extent, the confinement of Africa to area studies and the inability of African criticism to think in terms of the "world" go together. These two factors are crucial in explaining why the study of Africa has had such a feeble impact on the life of the various disciplines in particular, and on social theory in general.3


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How to Cite

Smythe, Kathleen. 2004. “Africa In The World: Lessons From African History For World History”. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods 29 (1):23-35.