Indiana University Press

African Systems of Thought

Published by: Indiana University Press

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African Systems of Thought

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Africa’s Ogun, Second, Expanded Edition

Old World and New

Edited by Sandra T. Barnes

The second edition of this landmark work is enhanced by new chapters on Ogun worship in the New World. From reviews of the first edition:

"... an ethnographically rich contribution to the historical understanding of West African culture, as well as an exploration of the continued vitality of that culture in the changing environments of the Americas." -- African Studies Review

"... leav[es] the reader with a sense of the vitality, dynamism, and complexity of Ogun and the cultural contexts in which he thrives.... magnificent contribution to the literature on Ogun, Yoruba culture, African religions, and the African diaspora." -- International Journal of Historical Studies

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African Material Culture

Edited by Mary Jo Arnoldi, Christraud M. Geary, and Kris L. Hardin

"This volume has much to recommend it -- providing fascinating and stimulating insights into many arenas of material culture, many of which still remain only superficially explored in the archaeological literature." -- Archaeological Review

"... a vivid introduction to the topic.... A glimpse into the unique and changing identities in an ever-changing world." -- Come-All-Ye

Fourteen interdisciplinary essays open new perspectives for understanding African societies and cultures through the contextualized study of objects, treating everything from the production of material objects to the meaning of sticks, masquerades, household tools, clothing, and the television set in the contemporary repertoire of African material culture.

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African Philosophy, Second Edition

Myth and Reality

Paulin J. Hountondji. Introduction by Abiola Irele

"Hountondji... writes not as an 'African' philosopher but as a philosopher on Africa.... Hountondji's deep understanding of any civilization as necessarily pluralistic, and often even self-contradicting as it evolves, is simply magisterial.... This is a precious gem of a book for anyone who wishes to reflect on civilization and culture." -- Choice

In this incisive, original exploration of the nature and future of African philosophy, Paulin J. Hountondji attacks a myth popularized by ethnophilosophers such as Placide Tempels and Alexis Kagame that there is an indigenous, collective African philosophy separate and distinct from the Western philosophical tradition. Hountondji contends that ideological manifestations of this view that stress the uniqueness of the African experience are protonationalist reactions against colonialism conducted, paradoxically, in the terms of colonialist discourse. Hountondji argues that a genuine African philosophy must assimilate and transcend the theoretical heritage of Western philosophy and must reflect a rigorous process of independent scientific inquiry. This edition is updated with a new preface in which Hountondji responds to his critics and clarifies misunderstandings about the book's conceptual framework.

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The Culture of Colonialism

The Cultural Subjection of Ukaguru

T. O. Beidelman

What did it mean to be an African subject living in remote areas of Tanganyika at the end of the colonial era? For the Kaguru of Tanganyika, it meant daily confrontation with the black and white governmental officials tasked with bringing this rural people into the mainstream of colonial African life. T. O. Beidelman's detailed narrative links this administrative world to the Kaguru's wider social, cultural, and geographical milieu, and to the political history, ideas of indirect rule, and the white institutions that loomed just beyond their world. Beidelman unveils the colonial system's problems as it extended its authority into rural areas and shows how these problems persisted even after African independence.

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Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana

Julie Livingston

In the rush to development in Botswana, and Africa more generally, changes in work, diet, and medical care have resulted in escalating experiences of chronic illness, debilitating disease, and accident. Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana documents how transformations wrought by colonialism, independence, industrialization, and development have effected changes in bodily life and perceptions of health, illness, and debility. In this intimate and powerful book, Julie Livingston explores the lives of debilitated persons, their caregivers, the medical and social networks of caring, and methods that communities have adopted for promoting well-being. Livingston traces how Tswana medical thought and practice have become intertwined with Western bio-medical ideas and techniques. By focusing on experiences and meanings of illness and bodily misfortune, Livingston sheds light on the complexities of the current HIV/AIDS epidemic and places it in context with a long and complex history of impairment and debility. This book presents practical and thoughtful responses to physical misfortune and offers an understanding of the complex dynamic between social change and suffering.

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Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel

Barbara Cooper

Barbara M. Cooper looks closely at the Sudan Interior Mission, an evangelical Christian mission that has taken a tenuous hold in a predominantly Hausa Muslim area on the southern fringe of Niger. Based on sustained fieldwork, personal interviews, and archival research, this vibrant, sensitive, compelling, and candid book gives a unique glimpse into an important dimension of religious life in Africa. Cooper's involvement in a violent religious riot provides a useful backdrop for introducing other themes and concerns such as Bible translation, medical outreach, public preaching, tensions between English-speaking and French-speaking missionaries, and the Christian mission's changing views of Islam.

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Yoruba Ritual

Performers, Play, Agency

Margaret Thompson Drewal

Yoruba peoples of southwestern Nigeria conceive of rituals as journeys -- sometimes actual, sometimes virtual. Performed as a parade or a procession, a pilgrimage, a masking display, or possession trance, the journey evokes the reflexive, progressive, transformative experience of ritual participation. Yoruba Ritual is an original and provocative study of these practices. Using a performance paradigm, Margaret Thompson Drewal forges a new theoretical and methodological approach to the study of ritual that is thoroughly grounded in close analysis of the thoughts and actions of the participants. Challenging traditional notions of ritual as rigid, stereotypic, and invariant, Drewal reveals ritual to be progressive, transformative, generative, and reflexive and replete with simultaneity, multifocality, contingency, indeterminacy, and intertextuality.

Throughout the book prominence is given to the intentionality of actors as knowledgeable agents who transform ritual itself through play and improvisation. Integral to the narrative are interpolations about performances and their meanings by Kolawole Ositola, a scholar of Yoruba oral tradition, ritual practitioner, diviner, and master performer. Rich descriptions of rituals relating to birth, death, reincarnation, divination, and constructions of gender are rendered all the more vivid by a generous selection of field photos of actual performances.

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Youth, Nationalism, and the Guinean Revolution

Jay Straker

In 1958, Guinea declared independence from France and propelled Ahmed Sékou Touré to power. Early revolutionary fervor was not to last, and until his death in 1984, Sékou Touré ruled with an iron fist. What would it have been like to participate in Guinea's changing political fortunes? Jay Straker invites readers to reconsider the sources, stakes, and ramifications of Guinea's nation-building experience. By engaging official political tracts, state and popular newspapers, education journals, novels, poems, plays, photographs, and personal histories, Straker offers an alternative view of the uneven effects of the state's attempts to reshape popular attitudes, social practice, and youth consciousness. Showing how visions of ideal youth played into the workings of revolutionary power, Straker creates a captivating and intense history that uncovers the ambitions that drove militant socialist-revolutionary politics in Guinea.

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