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Inventing Africa

Inventing Africa

History, Archaeology and Ideas

Robin Derricourt




(with free eBook)



A critical account of how the history of Africa has been understood, interpreted and misinterpreted

Inventing Africa is a critical account of narratives which have selectively interpreted and misinterpreted the continent's deep past.

Writers have created alluring images of lost cities, vast prehistoric migrations and golden ages of past civilisations. Debates continue on the African origins of humankind, the contributions of ancient Egypt to the world and Africa's importance to global history.

Images of 'Africa', simplifying a complex and diverse continent, have existed from ancient Mediterranean worlds, slave trading nations and colonial powers to today's political elites, ecotourists and aid-givers. Robin Derricourt draws on his background as publisher and practitioner in archaeology and history to explore the limits and the dangers of simplifications, arguing - as with Said's concept of 'Orientalism' - that ambitious ideas can delude or oppress as well as inform.

Defending Africa against some of the grand narratives that have been imposed upon its peoples, Inventing Africa will spark new debates in the history of Africa and of archaeology.

Robin Derricourt is Honorary Associate Professor in History at the University of New South Wales. He is the author of Inventing Africa (Pluto, 2011).

'An articulate and intelligent analysis that places generations of research and thinking in a broader context. <em>Inventing Africa</em> is certain to become a definitive and widely consulted work for anyone seriously interested in Africa's past' - Brian Fagan, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara

'A lively and engaging book that addresses a largely overlooked issue, how have Western appreciations and conceptualisations of the African continent changed through time' - Peter Mitchell FSA, Professor of African Archaeology at the University of Oxford

'One of the most readable books on African archaeology that has ever appeared' - Professor Emeritus Merrick Posnansky, University of California Los Angeles, Journal of African Archaeology

Preface: The Construction of African Pasts
1. The Changing Shape and Perception of “Africa”
2. Mythic and Mystic Africa
3. Looking Both Ways
4. Egos and Fossils
5. Stirring the Gene Pool
6. Ancient Egypt and African Sources of Civilization
7. Old States Good, New States Bad
8. The Present of the Past
End notes
Published by Pluto Press in Mar 2011
Paperback ISBN: 9780745331058
eBook ISBN: 9781783713608

200 pages

135mm x 215mm