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‘Us’ and ‘them’: the International African Institute and the current crisis of identity in African Studies

Abstract

In April 1986 British Africanists met to discuss the crisis facing African Studies in their country. The crisis was easily denned as one of lack of resources in universities where current cutbacks have particularly affected area studies; of the limited funds available to libraries specialising in African Studies; and of the severe reduction in the number of publishers willing to take on monographs relating to Africa, with the result that many scholars are ‘giving up all hope of being published'.1 Furthermore, lack of travel funds has meant that many Africanists teaching in Britain have not been to the continent of their study in seven years. So few new appointments have recently been made in the field of African Studies in British universities that, unless something drastic is done to reverse the trend, in fifteen years’ time there will be a sharp decline in the numbers actually engaged in African Studies as generations grow old and are not replaced.2 Students can see no future in pursuing African Studies at the postgraduate level and their teachers are in no position to advise even their most brilliant students that doctoral research will lead to an academic appointment. These developments have taken place in a context where those who run the government have lost or are losing interest in Africa, a continent which is seen increasingly as one of unending problems which they just wish would go away. Indeed, the whole crisis in African Studies, as described by some of the leading British Africanists that April, invited headlines in the respected weekly magazine West Africa: ‘African Studies in peril. Is the study of Africa in British universities dying?

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

B. Malinowski , ‘Practical anthropology’, Africa, 2 (1), January 1929, 36.

A. I. Richards , ‘Practical anthropology in the lifetime of the International African Institute’, Africa, 14 (6), April 1944, 299.

Richards Paul (ed.), African Environment: problems and perspectives. London: International African Institute, 1976.

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Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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