Art history in Africa: an introduction to method

Front Cover
Addison-Wesley Longman, Limited, 1984 - Art - 233 pages
0 Reviews
This is a pioneering introduction to a subject that is still at an early stage of academic development. It aims to provide the reader with a systematic method for the historical understanding of African art. Professor Vansina considers the medium, technique, style and meaning of art objects and examines the creative process through which they come into being. Numerous photographs and drawings illustrate his arguments, and help to explain the changes that have taken place.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


The oikoumene
Physical dating

13 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1984)

Belgium-born and educated, Jan Vansina is known internationally for his many contributions to social anthropology and to African history. Currently a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he received his Ph.D. in modern history from the University of Leuven in 1957, during which time he was a research scholar at the International Center for African Research in Belgium. That same year he became director of the center, a position he held for the next several years. After serving for some time as professor of history and anthropology, he joined the University of Wisconsin at Madison as the Vilas Research Professor. He has held concurrent positions as visiting lecturer at the University of Lovanium, Leopoldville, and at Northwestern University and as visiting professor and then professor at the University of Lovanium, Kinshasha. Vansina is one of the foremost pioneers in the development of techniques and methods in the history of culture that employ the use of oral traditions in the search for the African past. Although he was not the first scholar to use oral traditions in African history, he was the first scholar to evolve a rational methodology---one that has become the standard adopted by Africanists in many disciplines for using oral data. The evolution of Vansina's rational methods for the most effective use of oral traditions is reflected in his many publications, the most recent of which is Paths in the Rainforest: Towards a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa (1990). In this work he has successfully resolved a question that has long perplexed historians of Africa---how the Bantu peoples passed from their origins in the Niger-Benue region through the great tropical rainforests of Zaire to the savanna lands to the south, where they proliferated throughout eastern, central, and southern Africa.

Bibliographic information