Historical Approaches to African Politics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Across the past thirty years, historians have paid increasing attention to party politics and political movements in Africa. Recent work has emphasized the importance of World War II in transforming political constituencies, mobilizing opposition to colonial regimes, and encouraging new political imaginaries. Documenting these processes has also enabled a richer appreciation of the complexity of African publics, and the ongoing power demanded and asserted by women as well as men, non-elites as well as elites. In this way, the role of history has often been to tell important stories from the bottom up. Africanist historians’ interdisciplinary research methodologies, emphasizing local discourses and cultural frames, have also contributed to an increased appreciation for the specificities of political participation and state practices in African countries. In turn, these insights represent a useful addition to – and in some cases revision of – existing accounts of ‘weak’ African states and other notions of African dysfunction.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Encyclopedia of African Politics
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2019