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Africa in Global History (David Anderson)

Africa’s place in global history is well understood in terms of economic history and the developments of trade and production since the 1500s. Other impacts of global exchange, through colonial occupation and the social and political changes that were generated from the eighteenth century onwards, are less clear-cut. This class with therefore concentrate on cultural aspects of global history in Africa. You are asked to focus only on THREE sources. Each is a major monograph, written on the history of ritual murders – so-called “leopard murders” - each set in a different part of the continent: one in Lesotho, one in south-east Nigeria, the other in eastern Congo. The struggle to comprehend these murders, to unravel their mystic elements, to make sense of their materiality, and to gain knowledge of the political systems and cultural ideas that gave rise to them, allows us to gain insights on the interaction between internal and external forces in shaping Africa’s political economy.

Select ONE of these sources. Read the book. Read around the book: follow up on issues that interest you, and develop your understanding of the societies that gave rise to these ritual murders, and of the Europeans who tried to come to grips with things of which they had only a slim and uncertain understanding.


Copies of these books can be collected from my office – H314.

Murray, Colin and Pete Saunders. Medicine Murder in Colonial Lesotho: The Anatomy of a Moral Crisis (Edinburgh; Edinburgh University Press, 2005)

Pratten, David. The Man-Leopard Murders: History and Society in Colonial Nigeria (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007)

Van Bockhaven, Vicky L.M. The Leopard Men of the Eastern Congo (ca.1890-1940): history and Colonial Representation (Tervuren: Musee royal de l’Afrique central, 2013)

Essay Questions

How do you account for the similarities between “leopard-murders” in Lesotho, Nigeria, and the Congo?

What caused the “leopard murders”? Answer with reference to cases from Lesotho, OR Nigeria, OR Congo.