METHODS AND SOURCES OF THE AFRICAN PAST
2:45 – 4:15pm
Held in the Kellogg Center Auditorium
Chair: Kalala Ngalamulume
Mark Kornbluh, University of Kentucky, “David Robinson and the New Information Technologies in African history.”
Ghislaine Lydon, UCLA, “The Oral-Written Interface in African History: Some Methodological Considerations.”
Throughout his scholarship, David Robinson had made significant contributions to historical methodology. Since the publication of his first book, Chiefs and Clerics, he has skillfully combined a wide array of historical sources and approaches in attempts to access the African past. The use of oral sources, generated through extensive interviews with elders, has been central to his methodological approach. But he also has proven to be somewhat of a methodological innovator by providing intertextual readings of archival sources. Robinson’s position about the orality embedded in colonial reports serves as a starting point for this paper focused on the oral interface in African history. Using various examples from the colonial and local written record of Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, this paper discusses the process of excavating and interpreting sources by way of an intertextual reading of the written record.
John Hanson, Indiana University, “Jihad in West Africa: David Robinson’s contributions to reconstructing the 19th century Muslim movements of the Western Sudan.”
This paper examines David Robinson’s critical approach to the reconstruction of the mid-nineteenth century Muslim movement led by Umar Tal and its broader implications for understanding the era of jihad in West African history. After discussing his multiple methodological insights, the article analyzes the enduring influence of his contributions to an understanding of nineteenth century West African history.