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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Of Africa and golden joys
Author:Hopkins, A.G.ISNI
Periodical:Genève-Afrique: acta africana
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:African studies
Abstract:This essay offers an interpretation of the historiography of African studies by considering the ways in which the Dark Continent has been perceived by European observers. European attitudes have swung between polarities since the sixteenth century: Africa has been admired and despised; it has been regarded as a continent of riches and a land condemned to permanent poverty. Shifting images are to be explained less by changes in Africa itself than by changes in the perceptions of alien commentators of the material achievements and cultural values of their own societies. These perceptions were not simply features of a pre-scientific age; they also exerted a strong influence on the development of African studies as a subject of professional scholarship after 1945. Although alien influences have inspired much excellent research, they also carry the danger of importing conclusions which are ideologically determined. It is therefore important to recognise and control the motives for studying Africa to ensure that researchers do not become minions of fashion and that Africa is not packaged and presented as a disguised expression of that most powerful of world forces - the Western ego. - Notes, also sum. in French and German.