This article examines how historians have approached the history of poverty in Africa before European colonisation. From an earlier focus on the emergence of class difference to more recent studies on the emergence of poverty, scholars have demonstrated the longevity of economic inequality in Africa. This historiography counters a linear view of the growth of economic inequality and the idea that poverty is a necessary corollary of wealth. The article then considers how historians have studied the meanings of poverty within particular societies to the nineteenth century allowing us to move beyond the inadequacy of quantitative data. It ends by arguing for more longue durée studies of poverty in Africa with a focus on the qualitative and on the internal dynamics of particular societies. This will improve our knowledge about how colonial rule changed the experience and reality of poverty for people across the continent and form a basis for comparative studies.
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.
Usage data cannot currently be displayed