Africa's Past, Our Future

Africa's Past, Our Future

Kathleen R. Smythe
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/06/2015
Format: Paperback 10 maps, 2 b&w illus., 4 tables
ISBN: 978-0-253-01655-3
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Africa's Past, Our Future engages the history of the African continent through the perspective of global issues such as political instability, economic development, and climate change. Since the past may offer alternative models for thinking about our collective future, this book promotes an appreciation for African social, economic, and political systems that have endured over the long-term and that offer different ways of thinking about a sustainable future. Introducing readers to the wide variety of sources from which African history is constructed, the book’s ten chapters cover human evolution, the domestication of plants and animals, climate change, social organization, the slave trade and colonization, development, and contemporary economics and politics.

Author Bio

Kathleen R. Smythe teaches African history, global economic development, and sustainability at Xavier University. She is author of Fipa Families: Reproduction and Catholic Evangelization in Nkasi, Ufipa, 1880–1960.


“Grapples with the narratives and facts and where they fit in global perspective, but why this is all salient and critically meaningful to our lives today in terms of lessons we can learn and ideas we can borrow. This is a unique approach not yet available on the market.”
 — Catherine Cymone Fourshey, Susquehanna University

“An impressive synthesis of current literature in African history, making it understandable and relevant to undergraduates.”
 — Jan Bender Shetler, author of Imagining Serengeti: A History of Landscape Memory in Tanzania from Earliest Times to the

 — Choice

“This book is an innovative, important, and courageous addition to African and world history scholarship. . . . Africa’s Past is a much-needed text for teaching African history. Smythe not only provides an excellent survey of the latest research on Africa’s past, she also presents a concise and clear argument as to why this history is relevant today.”
 — African Studies Review

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Why We Need African History
Part 1. The Long Durée
1. Human Evolution and Becoming Human
2. Agriculture in History
3. Africans' Adaptions to Climate Change: Past and Present
Part 2. Cultural Differentiation
4. Heterarchy and Hierarchy
5. Cultural Diffusion
6. Matriliny
Part 3. Globalization
7. Colonialism and Development (with Heidi Frontani)
8. Africa's Development Assistance (with Heidi Frontani)
9. African Economics
10. Failed States? The Successful Somalia

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