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Encyclopedia of Africa: Two-volume set Hardcover – 27 May 2010

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"The Encyclopedia of Africa is well written and enjoyably readable...with major scholars (J. Lorand Matory, Ali Mazrui, et al.) contributing substantive, even pathbreaking work. Highly recommended."--CHOICE

About the Author

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. earned his MA and PhD in English Literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge, and his B.A. summa cum laude in English literature from Yale University. Before coming to Harvard (where he served as Chair of the African American Studies Department from 1991 to 2006), he taught at Yale, Cornell, and Duke. His grants and honors include a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," the George Polk Award for Social Commentary, Time Magazine's "25 Most Influential Americans" list, a National Humanities Medal, election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jefferson Lecture, a Visiting Fellowship at the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and 44 honorary degrees. Dr. Gates is the author of several works of literary criticism and is the Editor in Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, Series Editor of the Collected Black Writers series and of the Oxford W. E. B. Du Bois, and served as Editor in Chief

with Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham for African American Lives. He was recently named the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard. Kwame Anthony Appiah earned his BA and PhD in Philosophy from Cambridge. Before coming to Princeton, he taught at Yale, Cornell, Duke and Harvard and lectured at many other institutions in the United States, Germany, Ghana and South Africa, as well as at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Dr. Appiah has published widely in African and African American literary and cultural studies, and has previously served as Editor in Chief with Henry Louis Gates Jr. for the Dictionary of Global Culture and the Encarta Africana CD-ROM encyclopedia, which became the basis for the encyclopedia Africana published by OUP.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Elegant and up to date reference volumes on Africa, with some limitations 12 Mar. 2010
By Michael A. Duvernois - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is likely to mostly be a reference library sort of item. It's not cheap, and a decent fraction of the historical, geographical, and political coverage can be found on wikipedia or other, free, online references. Its value, therefore, comes at least in part as being a respectable reference for a high school research paper. I'd expect college students to use the primary source materials instead. Henry Louis Gates lends his impressive background as a testament to the seriousness of the project.

Do take a look at the sample entry, linked from amazon, which is the entry on Nigeria. This gives a good feel for the amount of coverage available even in a thick pair of volumes such as these. The entry covers the history, especially post-Colonial in some detail, but has little coverage of the cultural works of Nigeria or much depth in looking at the current political situation there. This is a natural limitation in trying to cover a full continent in a pair of volumes which can be lifted by one person.

The main limitation of these books, other than the limit of how much can be covered in books of this size, is the lack of material written by Africans. Much of the work is from scholars of Africa, writing from a distance. In fact, many of these individuals are better known for their work in African-American studies. The African-American experience seems to color some of the entries, and not just the obvious ones related to slavery or the African diaspora, but the entries on African religious life appear to be filtered through the experience of Black churches in America.

Okay, that said, these are impressive volumes and we can look forward to the day when scholars at the Universities of Cairo, Harare, and Monrovia edit the 7th edition...
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