On lives, politics and history. A conversation with Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman about activism, Mozambique and other African histories
Keywords:Allen F. Isaacman, Barbara S. Isaacman, African historiography, activism
In late 2019, Allen and Barbara Isaacman were in Portugal to conduct research on Samora Machel – guerrilla fighter and first president of the People’s Republic of Mozambique – which led to the book Samora Machel. A life cut short. Since the late 1960s, Allen and Barbara Isaacman have been working on what is now the territory of Mozambique, developing one of the most extensive and solid researches on the history of Africa. Their analyses focus on African political and social structures, the process of Portuguese colonial occupation, and how it affected the lives of African populations. In their books, archival knowledge and oral sources support a historiography concerned with the analysis of field processes, namely with the intention of bringing to the forefront the practices, expectations, and worldviews of the local populations. The conversation took place on October 15-17, 2019. Over several hours of recording, we talked about their personal, academic and political path. The lessons we took away from this conversation are varied and bear upon Barbara and Allen Isaacman’s generosity, ethical elevation, analytical rigor, and sense of solidarity with the Mozambican people.