Africa-centred Knowledges

Africa-centred Knowledges

Crossing Fields and Worlds

Edited by Brenda Cooper, Robert Morrell


James Currey



Proposes a dynamic new approach to the production of knowledge on Africa, one that is global, multiple and heterogeneous, elucidating this through both discursive theoretical chapters and case histories.
Knowledge production is a highly political and politicized practice. This book questions the way in which knowledge of and about Africa is produced and how this influences development policy and practice.
Rebutting both Euro- and Afrocentric production of knowledge, this collection proposes a multiple, global and dynamic Africa-centredness in which scholars use whatever concepts and research tools are most appropriate to the different African contexts in which they work. In the first part of the book key conceptual themes are raised and the epistemological foundations are laid through questions of gender, literature and popular music. Contributors in the second part apply and test these tools and concepts, examining the pressures on doctoral students in a South African university, the crisis in knowledge about declining marine fish populations, perplexities around why certain ICT provisions fail, or how some Zimbabwean students, despite being beset by poverty, succeed. The light thrown on the mechanics of how knowledge comes into being, and in whose interests, illuminates one of the key issues in African Studies.

Brenda Cooper is an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Manchester. She was for many years the Director of the Centre for African Studies and a Professor in the English department at the University of Cape Town, where she is now Emeritus Professor.
Robert Morrell is Coordinator of the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Capacity at the University of Cape Town.


August 2014
4 black and white, 2 line illustrations
232 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781847010957
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
James Currey
BISAC HIS001000, POL010000, PHI004000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: the possibility of Africa-centred knowledges - PART ONE Epistemology: struggles over meaning-making
Validated knowledge: confronting myths about Africa by Lansana Keita
Re-theorizing the indigenous knowledge debate by Lesley Green
Battlefields of knowledge: conceptions of gender in development discourse by Signe Arnfred
Knowing time: temporal epistemology in the African novel by Bill Ashcroft
Black boxes and glass jars: classification in the hunt for Africa-centred knowledge by Brenda Cooper
'This is a robbers' system': popular musicians' readings of the Kenyan state by Mbugua wa-Mungai - PART TWO Policy and practice: applying the knowledge
Science, fishers' knowledge and Namibia's fishing industry by Barbara Paterson, Marieke Norton, Astrid Jarre and Lesley Green
ICT for development: extending computing design concepts by Ulrike Rivett, Gary Marsden and Edwin Blake
'Good houses make good people': making knowledge about health and environment in Cape Town by Warren Smit, Ariane de Lannoy, Robert VH Dover, Estelle V Lambert, Naomi Levitt and Vanessa Watson
Men of God and gendered knowledge by Akosua Adomako Ampofo and Michael PK Okyerefo
Retrieving the traces of knowledge-making while editing a book on postgraduate writing by Linda Cooper and Lucia Thesen
Hunhuism (personhood) and academic success in a Zimbabwean secondary school by Leadus Madzima


(This volume) should point the way for equity and inclusion in the context of seeing Africa-centered research and products on equal footing with Euro-centric and Afro-centric paradigms. AFRICAN & ASIAN STUDIES

The book thus contains a huge diversity of subject matter, which is drawn together by a common interrogation of dominant ways of knowing and a quest for holding open alternatives. . . . It is a book to be recommended to any reader interested in moving beyond the tired binaries of "western" versus "indigenous" knowledge. AFRICAN STUDIES QUARTERLY

Contains a rich assembly of ideas and observations. ANTIPODE

The book contains many valuable thoughts and quotable statements, including a note that Hegel believed that the great historical dialectic bypassed Africa altogether, as well as insights about the relation between epistemology and method, the freeing and inhibiting qualities of classification systems, and the potential danger of knowing. ANTHROPOLOGY REVIEW DATABASE

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