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Engaging Modernity Cover

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Engaging Modernity

Muslim Women and the Politics of Agency in Postcolonial Niger

Ousseina Alidou

Seizing the space opened by the early 1990s democratization movement, Muslim women are carving an active, influential, but often-overlooked role for themselves during a time of great change. Engaging Modernity provides a compelling portrait of Muslim women in Niger as they confronted the challenges and opportunities of the late twentieth century.
    Based on thorough scholarly research and extensive fieldwork—including a wealth of interviews—Ousseina Alidou’s work offers insights into the meaning of modernity for Muslim women in Niger. Mixing biography with sociological data, social theory and linguistic analysis, this is a multilayered vision of political Islam, education, popular culture, and war and its aftermath. Alidou offers a gripping look at one of the Muslim world’s most powerful untold stories.

 

Runner-up, Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize, Women’s Caucus of the African Studies Association, 2007

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Epidemics

The Story of South Africa's Five Most Lethal Human Diseases

Howard Phillips

This is the first history of epidemics in South Africa, lethal episodes that significantly shaped this society over three centuries. Focusing on five devastating diseases between 1713 and today—smallpox, bubonic plague, “Spanish influenza,” polio, and HIV/AIDS—the book probes their origins, their catastrophic courses, and their consequences in both the short and long terms. The impacts of these epidemics ranged from the demographic—the “Spanish flu,” for instance, claimed the lives of 6 percent of the country’s population in six weeks—to the political, the social, the economic, the spiritual, the psychological, and the cultural. Moreover, as each of these epidemics occurred at crucial moments in the country’s history—such as during the South African War and World War I—the book also examines how these processes affected and were affected by the five epidemics. To those who read this book, history will not look the same again.

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The Evangelical Movement in Ethiopia

Resistance and Resilience

Tibebe Eshete

In this sweeping history, Tibebe Eshete presents a new view of Ethiopian Christianity. Synthesizing existing scholarship with original interviews and archival research, he demonstrates that the vernacular nature of the Ethiopian church played a critical role in the development of a state church. He also traces the effects of the political on the religious: the growth of other “counter-cultural” movements in 1960s Ethiopia, such as renewal movements, youth discontentment, and the Marxist regime (under which the church still flourished). This strikingly authentic work refutes the thesis that evangelicalism was imported. Instead, Eshete shows, it was a genuine indigenous response to cultural pressures.

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Facing a Pandemic

The African Church and the Crisis of Aids

Elias K. Bongmba

Facing a Pandemic traces the history and spread of the HIV/AIDS virus in Africa and its impact on African society and public policy before considering new priorities needed to combat the pandemic. The central argument is that the theological motif of the image of God invites a prophetic critique of the social environment in which HIV/AIDS thrives and calls for a praxis of love and compassion.

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Faku

Rulership and Colonialism in the Mpondo Kingdom (c. 1780-1867)

From roughly 1818 to 1867, Faku was ruler of the Mpondo Kingdom located in what is now the north-east section of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Because of Faku’s legacy, the Mpondo Kingdom became the last African state in Southern Africa to fall under colonial rule.

When his father died, Faku inherited his power. In a period of intense raiding, migration and state formation, he transformed the Mpondo polity from a loosely organized constellation of tributary groups to a centralized and populous state with effective military capabilities and a prosperous agricultural foundation. In 1830, Faku allowed Wesleyan missionaries to establish a station within his kingdom and they became his main channel of communication with the Cape Colony, and later Natal. Ironically, he never showed any serious inclination to convert to Christianity.

From the 1840s to early 1850s, this Mpondo king played a central, yet often understated, role in the British colonization of South Africa. While over the years his territory and power declined, Faku remained quite astute in diplomatic negotiations with colonial officials and used his missionary connections to optimum advantage.

Timothy J. Stapleton’s narrative and use of oral history paint a clear and remarkable portrait of Faku and how he was able to manipulate missionaries, neighbours, colonists and circumstances to achieve his objectives. As a result, Faku: Rulership and Colonialism in the Mpondo Kingdom (c.1780-1867) helps illuminate the history of the entire Cape region.

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Farmers and the State in Colonial Kano

Land Tenure and the Legal Imagination

Steven Pierce

In Farmers and the State in Colonial Kano, Steven Pierce examines issues surrounding the colonial state and the distribution of state power in northern Nigeria. Here, Pierce deconstructs the colonial state and offers a unique reading of land tenure that challenges earlier views of the role of indirect rule. According to Pierce, land tenure was the means the colonial government used to rule the local population and extract taxes from them, but it was also a political logic with a fundamental flaw and a Western bias. In Pierce's view, colonial representations of land tenure claimed to reflect precolonial systems of rule, but instead, fundamentally misrepresented farmers' experience. He maintains that this misrepresentation created a paradox at the core of the colonial state which persists into the present and helps to explain contemporary problems in African states. In this sweeping and eloquent account of African history, readers will find an extended genealogy of land law and taxation as well as rich material on the power of indigenous knowledge and the persistence of colonial systems of rule.

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The Fate of Africa's Democratic Experiments

Elites and Institutions

Edited by Leonardo A. Villalón and Peter VonDoepp

Does Western-style democracy make sense in the various geographic, economic, and social settings of the continent? How far toward democracy have recent liberalization movements gone? In The Fate of Africa's Democratic Experiments, Leonardo A. Villalón, Peter VonDoepp, and an international group of contributors consider the aftermath, success, failure, and future of the wave of democracy that swept Africa in the early 1990s. In some countries, democratic movements flourished, while in others, democratic success was more circumscribed. This detailed analysis of key political events in countries at the forefront of democratic change -- Benin, Central African Republic, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, and Zambia -- provides for broadly representative continental and linguistic coverage of directions and prospects for Africa's democracies.

The contributors are Michael Chege, John F. Clark, Joshua B. Forrest, Abdourahmane Idrissa, Bruce Magnusson, Carrie Manning, Richard R. Marcus, Andreas Mehler, David J. Simon, Leonardo A. Villalón, and Peter VonDoepp.

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The Female King of Colonial Nigeria

Ahebi Ugbabe

Nwando Achebe

Nwando Achebe presents the fascinating history of an Igbo woman, Ahebi Ugbabe, who became king in colonial Nigeria. Ugbabe was exiled from Igboland, became a prostitute, traveled widely, and learned to speak many languages. She became a close companion of Nigerian Igala kings and the British officers who supported her claim to the office of headman, warrant chief, and later, king. In this unique biography, Achebe traces the roots of Ugbabe's rise to fame and fortune. While providing critical perspectives on women, gender, sex and sexuality, and the colonial encounter, she also considers how it was possible for this woman to take on the office and responsibilities of a traditionally male role.

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Fighting the Greater Jihad

Amadu Bamba and the Founding of the Muridiyya of Senegal, 1853-1913

Cheikh Anta Babou

In Senegal, the Muridiyya, a large Islamic Sufi order, is the single most influential religious organization, including among its numbers the nation’s president. Yet little is known of this sect in the West. Drawn from a wide variety of archival, oral, and iconographic sources in Arabic, French, and Wolof, Fighting the Greater Jihad offers an astute analysis of the founding and development of the order and a biographical study of its founder, Cheikh Amadu Bamba Mbacke.
Cheikh Anta Babou explores the forging of Murid identity and pedagogy around the person and initiative of Amadu Bamba as well as the continuing reconstruction of this identity by more recent followers. He makes a compelling case for reexamining the history of Muslim institutions in Africa and elsewhere in order to appreciate believers’ motivation and initiatives, especially religious culture and education, beyond the narrow confines of political collaboration and resistance.
Fighting the Greater Jihad also reveals how religious power is built at the intersection of genealogy, knowledge, and spiritual force, and how this power in turn affected colonial policy.
Fighting the Greater Jihad will dramatically alter the perspective from which anthropologists, historians, and political scientists study Muslim mystical orders.

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Fighting the Slave Trade

West African Strategies

Sylviane A. Diouf

While most studies of the slave trade focus on the volume of captives and on their ethnic origins, the question of how the Africans organized their familial and communal lives to resist and assail it has not received adequate attention. But our picture of the slave trade is incomplete without an examination of the ways in which men and women responded to the threat and reality of enslavement and deportation.Fighting the Slave Trade is the first book to explore in a systematic manner the strategies Africans used to protect and defend themselves and their communities from the onslaught of the Atlantic slave trade a nd how they assaulted it.It challenges widely held myths of African passivity and general complicity in the trade and shows that resistance to enslavement and to involvement in the slave trade was much more pervasive than has been acknowledged by the orthodox interpretation of historical literature.Focused on West Africa, the essays collected here examine in detail the defensive, protective, and offensive strategies of individuals, families, communities, and states. In ch apters discussing the manipulation of the environment, resettlement, the redemption of captives, the transformation of social relations, political centralization, marronage, violent assaults on ships and ports, shipboard revolts, and controlled participation in the slave trade as a way to procure the means to attack it, Fighting the Slave Trade presents a much more complete picture of the West African slave trade than has previously been available.

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