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  • Enduring MethodsEditors' Introduction
  • Jan Jansen, Michel R. Doortmont, John H. Hanson, and Dmitri van den Bersselaar

The 2020 volume of History in Africa is the eleventh produced by the current editorial team. It will also be the last, as we are handing over to a brand-new team, consisting of esteemed colleagues Lorelle Semley, Sandra Barnes, Bayo Holsey, and Egodi Uchendu.

In our final volume we continue the practice set in at the start of our tenure in 2010. Our mission then was first to maintain the existing profile of the journal, developed by founding editor David Henige, of publishing scholarship on textual analysis and criticism, historiographical and bibliographical essays, and archival reports. We then set out to broaden the topical framework, with an inclusive view towards "History" and "Africa," and with an open eye for discussions on new information technologies and pedagogical issues, as set out in our editors' introduction in the 2010 volume.1 Although our ambitions may not have been fulfilled in all respects, we believe History in Africa has proven its continuing relevance and role in the field of African history, providing a platform for contributions on original research and reflection that other journals in the field do not always offer. The current volume starts with research on early written sources, articles which we label enduring methods for reasons that will become clear later in this introduction. This section is followed by one honoring and debating the work of our colleague Frederick Cooper. Then there are two sections dealing with issues of digitization that reflect our original ambition to address new technologies. And finally there is the regular and always well-received section with archival reports.

The first section features two articles with rigorous philological historical research by young researchers, in collaboration with two regular contributors to History in Africa. As it happens, both articles are also concerned with the precolonial history of Africa, and the Portuguese role in it, in Southern and in [End Page 1] West Africa. Both contributions also show how we can extract African perspectives from European texts.

The article by Gai Roufe and the late Joseph C. Miller describes and analyses how the make-up of political institutions in the Zambesi Valley between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries can be understood by studying Portuguese ethnographic documents that echo voices of local actors. The production of this article deserves extra attention, since it beautifully illustrates the scholarship and commitment of Joe Miller. Joe Miller was a member of the journal's Advisory Editorial Board from its inception in 1974, and every year he provided the editors with excellent reviews, critical comments, and editorial advice. He thereby supported the work of upcoming researchers, as in the article he co-authored with Gai Roufe in the current volume. During the editorial process, we received the sad news that Joe had passed away. This final co-authored piece is a fitting salute to Joe Miller's engagement with the journal and with Africa's history. We, the editors, are proud to have known him as our mentor, colleague, and friend and thank him for his life-long commitment to the historians of Africa.

The second article in this section is by another young researcher, Pedro Pinto, co-authored by Robin Law, also since 1974 active as a member of the Advisory Editorial Board. Robin Law has made his scholarship on the Portuguese presence in West Africa, and especially on the Kingdom of Allada, available to strengthen the work of a colleague at the start of his academic career. The archival work pushes back the date of the first known state contacts between Allada and Portugal from 1553 to 1541, while informing us about African initiatives to enhance relations with a European nation.

Under the heading "Frederick Cooper and the Historiography of Africa," five authors honor the work of Cooper on the eve of his retirement from teaching. The contributions are in themselves relatively short for a publication in History in Africa, but we feel that together they make a highly valuable contribution to historiography that also shows the breadth and impact of Frederick Cooper's work. Moreover, the collection illustrates well how History in...


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