Paths in the Rainforests: Towards a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa

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More About This Textbook


The rainforests of equatorial Africa cover an area almost as large as Western Europe and some 12 million people live there. So why has this area remained without a historiography? Vansina disputes the myth of an unchanging past in a hostile environment and demonstrates that there are rich and complex political, social and economic histories to be uncovered, as varied as the forest habitats themselves. North America: University of Wisconsin Press
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
In 400 elegantly brilliant pages Vansina lays out five millennia of history for nearly 200 distinguishable regions of the forest of equatorial Africa around a new, subtly paradoxical interpretation of tradition. - Joseph C. Miller, Professor of History in the University of Virginia As Vansina explains in Paths in the Rainforests, this is a vast region of remarkable if often subtle variety, cultural as well as ecological. The book incorporates his thinking about the Western Bantu people and their radiation on this side long before the Iron Age, and demonstrates a history of agriculture, together with varied types of hunting and gathering, over several millennia. From now Anglophone historians who scan the continent from east to west no longer have an excuse for merely skirting around the forest edge and pretending that there is nothing diachronically tangible within that zone. Vansina invites us to penetrate, pointing out the clear, if winding, paths between the trees and a luxuriant intellectual environment to be enjoyed. AZANIA ...This is the mature work of a lifetime spent following the paths through the rain forest by slogging study and by personal fieldwork. For a social anthropologist the really impressive thing is the systematic use of high tech resources to supplement the poor and patchy record of a region which is supposed to have no history ... This is undoubtedly a very important book and it deserves to provoke a lot of serious controversy. It is important as a fulfilment of a famous programme of ethnology, and it would be important politically if it enters into the debate about the African historical experience. Sadly, the last decade has been so tragic for Africa that the timing may be unfavourable for a formidable tour de force to get the attention it deserves. - Mary Douglas in 'ANTHROPOS
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780852550748
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 1/1/1991
  • Pages: 448

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