The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Historiography: Methods and Sources

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Apr 12, 2019 - History - 1736 pages
The difficulties of exploring African history, especially for earlier periods, have spurred the development of a wide range of methodologies and approaches, such that Wyatt McGaffey once termed it "the decathlon of the social sciences." Historians have long utilized archaeology, ethnography, historical linguistics, and oral traditions in their study of the continent, but are only beginning to explore the possibilities of genetics or many of the techniques used by modern archaeology and other emerging sciences. And as digital sources-from historical documents and statistics to cartographic, climatic, demographic, and environmental modeling-proliferate, so do the problems in using them. The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Historiography: Methods and Sources examines how these developments have influenced the scholarship that historians produce. Such methods continue to evolve, demanding that historians develop basic understandings of them. Thus, the two-volume Encyclopedia builds a theoretical foundation for the field, expanding the ways that Africa can be studied, and recovering the histories of the continent that often appear outside of the documentary record.

What people are saying - Write a review

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

Other editions - View all

About the author (2019)


Thomas Spear is Professor of African History Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was also Director of the African Studies Program and Chair of the History Department. He is a leading scholar of pre-colonial and East African history, and has published a number of books and articles on the subject, including The Kaya Complex: A History of the Mijikenda Peoples of the Kenya Coast to 1900 (1978); Kenya's Past: An Introduction to Historical Method in Africa (1981); The Swahili: Reconstructing the History and Language of an African Society, 800-1500 (with Derek Nurse, 1985); Mountain Farmers: Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru (1997); Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa (ed. with Richard Waller, 1993); and East African Expressions of Christianity (ed. with Isaria Kimambo, 1999). He has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Council of Learned Societies; served as editor of the Journal of African History; and taught at La Trobe University and Williams College.

Bibliographic information