World History Connected Home    
Home List journal issues Table of contents
Printer-friendly format          


     How should we teach about Africa in our world history courses? As the essays in this issue attest, there is no simple answer to this question. Yet one thing seems certain: most teachers of world history, at both the university and secondary levels, do not have adequate training in African history. Hence, we lack the necessary tools to integrate the complexities of African history into the world history classroom. This may have something to do with the fact that the field of African Studies is a mere half-century old in a discipline dominated by the older fields of European, American, and East Asian history. As a result, there are simply not enough trained African scholars to populate the history departments of our colleges and universities. For this reason, most of us have not benefited from systematic course instruction in African history at the post-secondary level. When we do teach about African history in the world history classroom, then, we tend to focus on a few standard issues: human origins, Nile civilizations, the Atlantic slave trade, the Scramble for Africa, and decolonization. Beyond these, most of us are at a loss. 1
     In our discussions with world history teachers at all levels of instruction over the past year, we frequently heard pleas for more information about how to integrate African history into world history courses. In response, we decided to devote an entire issue to the theme. Our goal is not to have the final word or to provide comprehensive coverage, but to begin a dialogue about Africa's place in world history that can be continued into the future. As the authors of this issue's essays eloquently demonstrate, African history is rich, diverse, and complex. It is also political, and can tell us much about legacies of racism and ethnocentrism within the discipline of history itself. Indeed, as the scholars featured in our Forum argue, it may not be enough simply to add 'factual' information about Africa to our repertoire of knowledge. Instead, we may need to rethink entirely the ways we approach Africa's history. 2
     In addition to our Forum, which features essays by four well-known African scholars, this issue offers a wealth of material for world history teachers seeking to learn more about the connections between Africa and world history. For example, additional essays span a wide range of temporal, geographical, and intellectual subjects, from a look at early African linguistic history, to the transnational fight against racism, to suggestions for using African literature in the world history classroom. Our outstanding regular columns, as well, provide resources for teaching about Cameroonian history, for integrating African history into the world history curriculum, for teaching history "from the edge," and for information on new texts useful in teaching visual literacy. We also welcome a guest column by Washington State University's Paul Smith, a music scholar and performer, about using the music of West African poet-musicians in the classroom. Other teaching resources featured in this issue include an annotated bibliography for further reading by David Northrup (current president of the World History Association), a list of favorite teaching resources by our forum authors, and a letter from a Peace Corps worker about women's education in an isolated region of Cameroon. Finally, this issue features a large number of book reviews relevant to teaching world history. 3
     We wish to thank all of you once again for your continuing support of World History Connected. Readers will no doubt notice that we have joined the History Cooperative, which we hope will bring our concerns about teaching world history to an even wider audience worldwide. Please continue to let us know how we are doing, what you would like to see in future issues, and how we can improve. Our goal is to support you in this mightily ambitious project of teaching about the world. 4


Heather Streets, co-editor

Tom Laichas, co-editor

Tim Weston, associate editor


Home | List Journal Issues | Table of Contents
© 2004 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Content in World History Connected is intended for personal, noncommercial use only. You may not reproduce, publish, distribute, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, modify, create derivative works from, display, or in any way exploit the World History Connected database in whole or in part without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Terms and Conditions of Use