Africa is a Country: Challenges of Writing African History (AHRI Seminar)

Arts & Humanities Research Institute (AHRI) Seminars 2018/19

The Scottish Centre for Global History invites you to the first AHRI research seminar for this academic session.

Dr Matt Graham (University of Dundee)

Africa is a Country: Challenges of Writing African History

Africa is the most misunderstood region in the world. It is a continent that generates an enormous amount of public and scholarly interest and attention, yet is also subject to significant misrepresentation and generalisation that does little to account for its diversity or complexity. Africa is home to 55 nation-states, over one billion people, and is the most linguistically varied place on earth with over two thousand languages spoken, but all too frequently, it is often viewed as a homogeneous, single entity. Nonetheless, in the west such a perception is commonly encountered and perpetuated. The all too common phrase that ‘Africa is a country’ abounds.

Based upon a recently completed book project ‘Contemporary Africa’, which tackled various historic, political, and social themes concerning the continent, this paper will explore, analyse and assess the key challenges and theoretical conceptualisations about writing a ‘history’ of Africa. The paper will discuss the ways in which the project developed and evolved, some of the problems concerning positionality and the choice of case-study, and why such a project is relevant despite the obvious pitfalls of writing about ‘Africa’.  


AHRI Seminars take place throughout the academic year at the University of Dundee and are open to everyone. Check the full list of forthcoming AHRI Seminars for details.


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Tickets: Free