Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-zts5g Total loading time: 0.272 Render date: 2021-10-22T05:05:27.606Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Introduction: Frederick Cooper and the Historiography of Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2019

Rights & Permissions[Opens in a new window]

Abstract:

This short essay introduces a set of five papers that examine the place Frederick Cooper’s scholarship occupies in the historiography of Africa.

Résumé:

Ce court essai présente une série de cinq articles qui examinent la place occupée par les publications de Frederick Cooper dans l’historiographie de l’Afrique.

Type
Frederick Cooper and the Historiography of Africa
Copyright
© African Studies Association 2019

The five papers included in this collection are revised and expanded versions of talks given in honor of Frederick Cooper at the Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association held 29 November – 1 December 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.Footnote 1 In advance of Cooper’s retirement from teaching, Dorothy Hodgson and a number of his former students and interlocutors organized five roundtables on themes of slavery and emancipation, labor and work, colonialism and decolonization, development and the world economy, and state and citizenship.Footnote 2 The range of important themes addressed and the enthusiasm of participants in the panels attest to Frederick Cooper’s monumental impact on the study of African history.

Since the 1970s, the quality and originality of Cooper’s major books and articles have shaped not only African studies but also the theory and methods of scholarship beyond African studies. Over the course of his career, Cooper has produced ten single-authored books, numerous co-authored and edited books, and over 115 articles and book chapters, many of which have been translated into other languages. Added to this are countless book reviews, article and book manuscript reviews, and generous comments on the work of colleagues. But the impact of his work is not measured by the quantity of his publications, as is clear from Cooper’s numerous awards. His second book, From Slaves to Squatters, won the African Studies Association’s Melville Herskovits Prize in 1982. Two of his later books – On the African Waterfront and Decolonization and African Society – were finalists for the same prize in 1988 and 1997, respectively. More recently, Cooper’s work has been recognized by the World History Association (2011) and the American Historical Association (2015).

In his commitment to mentoring PhD students and generously supporting the work of colleagues, Cooper has played a distinguished role in producing new generations of African historians, anthropologists, and scholars in other fields and disciplines. Clearly, not all of them – not even a small fraction of them – could participate in the roundtables, and even a smaller fraction could take part in our project to publish a selection of the papers on a relatively compressed time scale (five months between the conference and the final submission of the collection to this journal).

The discerning reader will note that four of the five authors published here are or were tenured in North American universities and that none are African by birth. Cooper’s own work would suggest that we be attentive to the structural factors that create such imbalances. In Atlanta, Cooper commented on the fact that, particularly in the late 1970s, he learned a great deal in seminars at the History Department and the Institute of Development Studies of the University of Nairobi, where questions were honed, evidence critiqued, and ideas challenged by scholars like Karim Janmohamed, Peter Anyong N’yongo, and Apollo Njonjo. Those institutions, like many others on the African continent (and in different ways for different reasons, in North America), have been through lean times in the decades since.Footnote 3 Yet a new wave of history-writing is rising in and beyond Africa, and as the strength of African research institutions returns, and new generations of scholars emerge, our field can only become more dynamic, engaged, and engaging.

Although all of the papers collected here attest to and appreciate Frederick Cooper’s major influence on their respective subjects, they are not hagiographic. Rather, our intention is to describe some of Cooper’s key intellectual interventions, place them in historiographical context, suggest ways that they continue to enrich the study of African history, and even note some of their limitations. The papers engage with most of Cooper’s key works. As it turns out, all reference Plantation Slavery on the East Coast of Africa or From Slaves to Squatters, while historiographically situating interventions like “The Problem of Slavery in African Studies” (Lindsay), On the African Waterfront (White), “Africa in the World Economy” (Traugh), the co-edited Tensions of Empire (Ivaska), Decolonization and African Society (White and Mann), and Citienship between Empire and Nation (Mann). Finally, this collection of papers is not intended as a moment of “closing,” to borrow Cooper’s language from an influential 2008 article, but as a continued “opening” towards new questions, new perspectives, and new critiques.Footnote 4 We hope that these essays prove useful and stimulating for both those who are new to and those who are already familiar with Cooper’s scholarship. We look forward to Cooper’s future publications and to those of his students, interlocutors, and critics.

Footnotes

1 The authors wish to thank Dorothy Hodgson and all those who helped to organize or who participated in the ASA panels.

2 The following scholars participated in these panels: Luise White, Timothy Scarnecchia, Genese Sodikoff, Natasha Issa Shivji, Pamela Scully, Lisa Lindsay, Steven Pierce, Kerry Ward, Hollian Wint, Moses Ochonu, Katherine Luongo, Andrew Ivaska, Trina Hogg, Reynolds Richter, Dorothy Hodgson, Laura Phillips, Priya Lal, Geoffrey Traugh, Rachel Kantrowitz, Lynn Thomas, Larissa Kopytoff, Oghenetoja Okoh, Gregory Mann, and Marc Goulding. Frederick Cooper provided commentary after each of the five panels.

3 Frederick Cooper, “Africa’s Pasts and Africa’s Historians,” Canadian Journal of African Studies 34–2 (2000), 298–336.

4 Frederick Cooper, “Possibility and Constraint: African Independence in Historical Perspective,” Journal of African History 49–2 (2008), 167–196.

References

Cooper, Frederick, “Africa’s Pasts and Africa’s Historians,” Canadian Journal of African Studies 342 (2000), 298336.Google Scholar
Cooper, Frederick, “Possibility and Constraint: African Independence in Historical Perspective,” Journal of African History 492 (2008), 167196.10.1017/S0021853708003915Google Scholar
You have Access

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Introduction: Frederick Cooper and the Historiography of Africa
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Introduction: Frederick Cooper and the Historiography of Africa
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Introduction: Frederick Cooper and the Historiography of Africa
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *