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Movements, Borders, and Identities in Africa
preview of book Movements, Borders, and Identities in Africa
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Movements, Borders, and Identities in Africa

Editors: Toyin Falola, Aribidesi Usman
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Publication Date: 2009
Category: General
Grades: Highly recommended
Number of Pages: 334
Appropriate for: All academic levels/libraries
Choice rating: 
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About this title

Migration, whether forced or voluntary, continues to be an issue vital to Africa, arguably the continent most affected by internal displacement. Over centuries -- in groups or as individuals -- Africans have been forced to leave their homes to escape unfavorable natural, social, or political circumstances, or simply to seek better lives elsewhere. This essential volume establishes the centrality of human migration and movement to the evolution of African societies.

Using oral, archaeological, and written sources, and focusing on various geographical areas, the contributors show that migration is a multifaceted phenomenon, historically varied in nature and character. Movements, Borders, and Identities in Africa incorporates carefully selected case studies drawn from across the continent, and provides a broad but insightful overview of migration and its complex relationships to slavery, commerce, religion, architecture, material culture, poverty, diaspora life and identity formation, and the development of states and societies on the continent. Taken as a whole, this collection offers a groundbreaking interrogation of the myriad causes and effects of African migration, from the precolonial to the modern era.

Contributors: Edmund Abaka, Maurice Amutabi, Toyin Falola, Ghislaine Geloin, Issiaka Mande, Jean-Luc Martineau, Pius S. Nyambara, Akinwumi Ogundiran, Adisa Ogunfolakan, Olatunji Ojo, Brigitte Kowalski Oshineye, Meshack Owino, Gerald Steyn, and Aribidesi Usman.

About editors
Toyin Falola
Toyin Falola is the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Aribidesi Usman

Aribidesi Usman is Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and Anthropology at Arizona State University.


Movements, borders, and identities in Africa, ed. by Toyin Falola and Aribidesi Usman. Rochester, 2009. 318p index afp ISBN 1-58046-296-0; ISBN 9781580462969. Reviewed in 2010mar CHOICE.

This interdisciplinary collection of 14 essays challenges the pervasive stereotype that Africans live in tribes, which are ancient and static. As the editors point out, origin stories, which are essentially about migration, are common throughout Africa. Africanists often divide communities into "hosts" and "strangers"; however, as is noted in this volume, "all residents are from somewhere else." Beginning with the migration of Homo erectus out of the African homeland, the introduction surveys the impact of the migrations of Bantu-speaking peoples and Islam, with its call to pilgrimage and a tradition of mobile merchants. Under European rule, the establishment of borders that cut across ethnic lines did not end migratory movements, but did make them more challenging. In the postcolonial period, movements of people continue. In the popular media (and imagination), "African migration" typically conjures images of the transatlantic, or the tragic journeys of economic migrants on small, overcrowded boats, or of the "brain drain." In each of these cases, the movement is from Africa to the West. This volume highlights the crossings and making of borders and identities within Africa. A wonderful volume for collections in African studies and history.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels/libraries. -- A. Ejikeme, Trinity University

Copyright 2013 American Library Association


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