Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Africa and the World (David Anderson)

Where does Africa sit in the development of Global History as a field of study over the past two decades? This seminar will explore this question, taking as its starting point a recently published set of essays from the Journal of African History that carry forward this debate, set alongside the work of historians of Africa that questions the very idea of “globalization” as being useful in historical enquiry, suggesting an innate contradiction between “area studies” and “global history”.


  1. How can we avoid Africa’s place in global history being defined only by histories of slave trades and diasporas?
  2. Are Africa’s transnational histories global enough?
  3. Can scholars in nations that do not yet have a national history afford the expensive luxury of global history?
  4. What does global history add to our understanding of the African past? (and does it matter “when”?)

Core Readings

Manning, Patrick. “African and world historiography.” Journal of African History 54, iii (2013): 319-330.

Zimmerman, Andrew. “Africa in Imperial and transnational history: multi-sited historiography and the necessity of theory.” Journal of African History 54, iii (2013): 331-340.

Hofmeyr, Isabel. “African history and global studies: a view from South Africa.” Journal of African History 54, iii (2013): 341-349.

Cooper, Frederick. “What is the concept of globalization good for? An African historian’s perspective.” African Affairs 100 (2001): 189-213.

Reynolds, J.T. “Africa and world history: from antipathy to synergy.” History Compass 5, vi (2007): 1998-2013.

Schäfer, Will. “Reconfiguring area studies for the global age.” Globality Studies Journal: Global History, Society, Civilization 22 (31 December 2010) <>

Further Readings

Anderson, David M., Susan Beckerleg, Degol Hailu, and Axel Klein. The Khat Controversy: Stimulating the Debate on Drugs. Berg: Oxford, 2007.

Anderson, David M. and Neil Carrier. “Flowers of Paradise, or Polluting the Nation? Contested narratives of khat consumption.” In John Brewer & Frank Trentmann (eds), Consuming Cultures, Global Perspectives: Historical Trajectories, Transnational Exchanges, 145-66. (Berg: Oxford, 2006).

Bayly, C.A. ‘“Archaic’ and ‘modern’ globalization in the Eurasian and African arena, c. 1750-1850.” In A.G. Hopkins (ed.), Globalization in World History, 47-74. (New York, 2002)

Burbank, Jane and Frederick Cooper. Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 2010)

E. Gilbert and J. T. Reynolds. Africa in World History (3rd edn, New York, 2011).

Giles-Vernick, Tamara, et al. “Social history, biology and the emergence of HIV in colonial Africa.” Journal of African History 54, i (2013): 11-30.

Gomez, Michael A. Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diasporas (New York, 2005).

Green, Nile. “Africa in Indian ink: Urdu articulations of Indian settlement in East Africa.” Journal of African History 53, ii (2012): 131-150.

Hopkins, A.G. “The history of globalization – and the globalization of history?” In A.G. Hopkins (ed.), Globalization in World History, 11-46. (New York, 2002).

Iliffe, John. The African AIDS Epidemic: A History. (James Currey: Oxford, 2006)

Kelley, R.D.G. ‘“But a local phase of a world problem’: black history’s global vision, 1883-1950.” Journal of American History 86, iii (1999): 1045-77.

Lindner, Ulrike. “The transfer of European social policy concepts to tropical Africa, 1900-1950: the example of maternal and child welfare.” Journal of Global History 9, ii (2014): 208-31.

Prestholdt, Jeremy. “Resurrecting Che: radicalism, the transnational imagination, and the politics of heroes.” Journal of Global History 7, iii (2012): 506-26.

Rediker, Marcus. The Slave Ship: A Human History (New York, 2007).

Salvadore, Matteo. “The Ethiopian age of exploration: Prester John’s discovery of Europe, 1306-1458.” Journal of World History 21 (2010): 593-627.

Thornton, John K. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World. (CUP: Cambridge, 1992.)

Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe. Rethinking Africa’s Globalization. Vol 1: The Intellectual Challenges (Trenton, NJ., 2003).