History and Memory: Epistemological Reinterpretation of Africa's Past in a Post-Colonial Context (open)


Editors: João Pedro Lourenço (Instituto Superior de Ciências da Educação de Luanda), Maria da Conceição Neto (Universidade Agostinho Neto)


The extraordinary advances in historiography on Africa and in Africa in the 60s and 70s of the twentieth century, running parallel to the contestation and end of colonial empires, were not accompanied by an equivalent pace of transformation in the teaching of history in African countries, in terms of theories, methods and organization of content to be transmitted. After several decades, the distance remains between the "decolonizing" effort in historiography, with some success, and the way history is taught to young Africans, still reflecting a Eurocentric vision of the history of humankind, whether in periodization or in selection of the most relevant themes. In general, the history of Africa continues to be studied in a fragmented way, with little emphasis on its connections with world history, in which it only appears fully integrated with (as a result of) European expansion and subsequent colonization. Despite the now classic reference to the continent as the "cradle of humankind", there are still narratives that do not take into account the temporal depth of African history, its ancient relationships with other spaces and the diversity of historical situations before, during and after European colonial exploitation. Inadequate and Eurocentric periodizations also prevail, whether for world history (the already much criticized division of the four "Ages") or for the history of Africa (a "pre-colonial period" for millennia of history). UNESCO's commendable efforts were important but insufficient to overcome Africa´s external dependence (mostly from former colonizing countries) in terms of the production of didactic content and means of teaching history, from basic to university level.

It is important to better understand what is happening in different African countries, at the level of the Academy but also in other spaces where social memory and history confront each other, and how political, ideological, economic and linguistic factors interfere in those situations. In the case of the former Portuguese colonies, which will soon celebrate 50 years of independence, there are additional factors, such as the later end of colonial rule and the delay in historiography about Africa that occurred until recent decades, both in Portugal and in Brazil. Despite current progress, most of the bibliography essential for the study of world history, and of the African continent in particular, is not available in Portuguese.

This special issue of Práticas da História is interested in receiving contributions, referring to colonial and post-colonial African contexts, that explore, question and/or reflect on aspects such as:

- The (im)possibility of epistemological autonomy of African Universities: debates and concerns around History Courses, Curricula and Programs.

- The relationship between historical discourse validated by scientific institutions and other forms of social and collective memory, generally ignored in educational institutions, despite their social importance.

- The way in which memory, history and contemporary policies of African national states intersect in spaces of debate and knowledge production, on the continent and beyond.

- The penetration and impact on the historiography of digital humanities - and the possibilities and difficulties, in the African context, of articulating the teaching of History with the world of digital information.

- The place and contribution of historiography and the teaching of History in the construction of memory in Africa, considering the multiple relationships between the constructions of historiographical discourses, public spaces and the public sphere.

- Policies for the construction of archives, public libraries and other infrastructures, as well as the constitution, dissemination and access of funds and collections, a condition for democratic processes in the construction of public memories.

- The relationships between African historiography and Africanist historiography - networks, internationalism, issues of power, publishing markets and their impacts.

- The construction and teaching of "national histories" in the face of the risk of teleological and anachronistic interpretations, projecting current borders into the past.

- The use of the past (known, imagined, manipulated) by different social actors (political parties, unions, churches, groups and social movements, individuals and collectives of citizens or others) as a place of confrontation, contradiction and legitimation.


Proposals (maximum 500 words) must be sent by 31 July to praticashistoria@gmail.com, accompanied by a short biographical note from the author(s). Your acceptance or refusal will be communicated by September 10th. Articles from accepted proposals must be submitted by 15 December. Contributions are accepted in Portuguese, English, Spanish and French.