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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:When the African Society Was Founded, Who Were the Africanists?
Author:Fage, J.D.
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society
Geographic terms:Great Britain
Subjects:African studies
Education and Oral Traditions
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/723404
Abstract:There was no concept of African Studies as a discrete activity in the United Kingdom prior to 1900, the year in which the African Society (since 1935 the Royal African Society) was founded. Making use of material relating to the foundation and early history of the Royal African Society, this paper examines what kind of people in the early years of the present century thought it appropriate to come together in an African Society and how like they were to the men and women of today who think of themselves as 'Africanists'. It shows that virtually none of those who joined the Society in its early years were professional or academic students of Africa. Most of the early members were amateurs, whose interest in Africa had arisen from their careers as soldiers, statesmen, administrators, merchants, manufacturers, missionaries and so forth. The powerhouse of the African Society in its early years seems to have lain within its business, academic and political membership. The businessmen were largely concerned with West Africa and the politicians were almost all liberal or radical. The peculiarity of the academics was that many of them had not had any obvious professional connection with Africa. Notes, ref.