Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

On Africa: Scholars and African Studies: Contributions in Honour of Lennart Wohlgemuth

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

On Africa: Scholars and African Studies: Contributions in Honour of Lennart Wohlgemuth

Article excerpt

On Africa: scholars and African studies: contributions in honour of Lennart Wohlgemuth; edited by Henning Melber. (Discussion Paper 35) Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2007. 65 pp. ISBN 978-91-7106-585-8.

This slim volume is based on a seminar, organised in honour of the Nordiska Afrikainstitutet's retiring Director. Not surprisingly given its origins, it contains its share of conventional pieties, compliments, laments and desiderata, but it is worth acquiring mainly for the opening essay by Codesria's Adebayo Olukoshi, including his useful short bibliography. Olukoshi gives a succinct, historical overview, tracing "African Studies" from their origins in colonialist, missionary and anthropological discourses, through the heady days of independence and the establishment of African universities, the impact of the Cold War, Afro-pessimism and 9/11 and the War against Terror. He scores some hits - some valid points, some cheap gibes - against an African Studies establishment dominated by "non-African high priests of the field" and characterised, in his view, by "a growing culture of a massive self-referencing" and process "of manufacturing and reproducing gurus ...through a mutual backslapping that ultimately impoverishes the field". He asks awkward questions about the links between the dominant discourse of leading Africanists, funding, research priorities and the policies of Western governments, international financial institutions and development agencies and calls for a revival of African Studies in Africa that are "truly meaningful for Africa. …

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