The Greening of African History

Two scholars of African and African American studies speak about the fields as they exist in 1987. Harold Marcus discusses African history and the growth of the discipline into a flourishing branch of scholarship by the mid-1980s. He looks at South Africa as an example of postcolonial development, where capitalism has brought people into the twentieth century. He states that much of Africa is in a state of chaos, but that Zimbabwe can be used as a model of development. He points out the shallow depth of teaching African history in American schools and colleges and as it is understood by the general public.

In the second segment [14:30], Johnnella Butler points out that prior to the 1960s, it was believed there was no African American culture, but over the last seventeen years African American studies has gradually established a place for itself in academia. She points out that works of history and literature are leading the awakening in this field, and that anthropologists, social historians, popular culture, and the media are aiding the process.

At the time of these interviews, Marcus, a Fellow at the National Humanities Center (1985-86), was professor of history at Michigan State University.

Butler was professor of literature at Smith College.

This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.

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